Making PD the people’s choice


SEREMBAN: Port Dickson is set to strengthen its position as one of the country’s premier tourism destinations following proposals to build a smart port and a RM25mil floating mosque in the resort town, as well as to create a duty-free zone complete with a theme park.

State tourism committee chairman Nicole Tan Lee Koon (pic) said discussions will be held with cruise companies and related agencies to make Port Dickson (PD) one of their stopovers.

With the state government’s proposal to make 2026 a Visit Negri Sembilan year, more efforts to increase tourist arrivals must be made, she said.

“The PD district and land office has received an application for the construction of a smart port while a duty-free zone, theme park, premium outlet, a five- to six-star hotel and international food courts are also in the works,” said Tan, underlining Port Dickson’s vast potential to attract private investments.

Although she did not elaborate on the proposed port, she expressed confidence that it would play a major role in luring shipping companies to make Port Dickson, which she said had more than 80 tourism-related products, a home port.

The proposal to create a duty-free zone in Port Dickson was mooted more than 15 years ago but it has yet to take off.

Negri Sembilan Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Aminuddin Harun said, in a social media post, that the Federal Government has allocated RM15mil for the floating mosque, which will be built near the scenic Pantai Cahaya Negeri.

Tan was responding to a recent call by Aminuddin to all state agencies, departments and concessionaires to preserve and promote the image of the resort town and to do more to boost tourism.

Port Dickson’s tourism attractions also include its 10 popular beaches, which must be kept clean, he said.

Tan said several events, including international ones, will be held in Port Dickson this year to further promote tourism.

They include the Port Dickson Triathlon, Asia Powerboat International Championships, Auto Show PD, Trial Endurance Series, Explorace Tourism PD and the Tunku Laxmana-Milo/NSC Open Regatta.

The Aspirasi Malam Kebudayaan dan Kesenian Pesona PD, an arts and culture series, will also be held quarterly.

Tan has also been “selling” PD to non-traditional markets such as the Middle East to ensure it remains one of the country’s top-ranked tourism destinations.

“I recently met some 40 tourism agents from the Middle East. We see great potential here. Apart from (mainstream) tourism, Malaysia is also known for its health, wellness and medical tourism,” she said.

Tan believes the Federal Government’s decision to implement visa-free travel for tourists from India and China will also complement the state government’s efforts to increase tourist arrivals to Port Dickson.

According to Tourism Malaysia, there was an increase of almost 54% in tourist arrivals (nationwide) from China alone during the recent Chinese New Year holidays.

Although Negri Sembilan welcomed some 3.8 million tourists in 2022, Tan believes that figure can increase to eight million tourists this year.

“Like I said earlier, we need more promotion. Take Pulau Burung, an island where we have many species of birds ... it is connected to the mainland at Pantai Cahaya Negeri by two bridges.

“We have a boardwalk that leads to the mangrove area in addition to an observation tower from where tourists can have a beautiful view of the ocean,” she said, adding that not many know about this attraction.

Other popular places are the Kota Lukut Museum, Army Museum, PD Forest at Sg Menyala which also has an Astronomy Square, Ornamental Fish Centre, Sky Ladder Pineapple Farm which offers a fascinating agrotourism experience, PD Maze which is the largest hedge plant maze in the country, the Pengkalan Kempas historical complex and PD Ostrich Farm.

Another big draw is the 500-year-old Tanjung Tuan lighthouse and wildlife reserve located on a cape that many do not know belongs to Melaka.

Consortium of Inbound Tourism Alliance executive chairman Uzaidi Udanis said Port Dickson has great potential but sadly, promotion has been lacking.

He said Port Dickson should naturally be a tourism magnet as it has many beachfront hotels.

“There is no excuse for not making PD a tourist destination since it is located so close to the Klang Valley and KLIA (Kuala Lumpur International Airport),” he said, adding that some tourism products in PD need more publicity.

Uzaidi said the Ornamental Fish Centre in Teluk Kemang, as an example, remains under the radar.

The centre houses more than 50 species of ornamental fish, 40 types of coral and other fascinating marine life.

“There are live corals at the centre and it is something many people would want to see as there are no such centres around us,” he added.

The turtle sanctuary and hatchery should also be better marketed, he said.

The Army Museum is another attraction and this was evident, said Uzaidi, when he took a group of tourists from the Middle East there.

“What PD needs is proper storytelling. On social media, one can find only a few topics on things to do in PD and this has to be enhanced,” he said.

Malaysian Association of Hotels state chapter chairman Haziz Hassan said a brainstorming session will also be held with the state Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA).

“We need to know what the shortcomings are and why we are not getting as many tourists as other states that had once lagged behind us but have since pulled ahead.

“For a start, hotels in PD have decided to offer packages that include a ‘buka puasa buffet plus a night stay’ during the month of Ramadan where hotels experience low occupancy.

“We are confident it will be well-received as the packages will be affordable,” he said, adding that an NS Food Festival will also be held during the holy month.

State MATTA chapter head Lee Fook Moi said state authorities and tourism operators need to work with the association to improve Port Dickson’s standing among tourists.

“PD has some of the finest beaches but if tourists are unaware, then it is a waste. The current state exco has been doing a great job but we need to work together to further promote PD,” she said.

Lee said the state government can also emulate some other states that hand out incentives to tour companies that bring in tourists.

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