Name: Abdul Malik bin Haji Ismail
Company: Tourism Johor
The job of fulfilling Tourism Johor’s mission in marketing Johor as a destination of excellence and to make the tourism industry a major contributor to the socio-economic development of the state lies in the hands of the current Director of Tourism Johor, Abdul Malik bin Ismail who brings 28 years of experience in various portfolios to the drawing board. Among his previous significant positions held by him were the Deputy Mayor of Pengerang Local Authority, and Director of the Johor Landscape Department. The Tourism Johor top position was presented to him in late 2017 when there was a reshuffle in the Johor Civil Service (JCS). Taking over the reins from his predecessor, Abdul Malik has enabled modernisation towards the tourism industry in Johor such as promoting cashless tourism and digital marketing.
As one of the biggest states in Malaysia, how does Tourism Johor manage to promote and drive the tourism industry here?
There is no doubt that Tourism Johor depends on the support and collaborative efforts from various government agencies and the private sector, namely industry movers to develop the tourism industry in Johor.
The Tourism Johor Action Council (JTAC) and District Tourism Action Council (DTAC) have been established to ensure that all activities that revolve around the tourism industry are implemented well through proper planning, development, coordination, monitoring, promotion, and marketing. Both councils are crucial to assist Tourism Johor in coordination and implementing new tourism plans at the district and state levels.
Besides that, these councils act as a platform for industry players to discuss arising matters or issues regarding the tourism landscape with the state government. Indirectly, it strengthens the collaborative relationship between government agencies, the private sector, and non-government bodies in developing the tourism industry in Johor.
Can you share some data on the number of tourists visiting Johor?
The tourism industry in Johor is seen to be on a good track and has the potential to continue moving forward. Statistics show that the number of incoming tourists to Johor has risen by 5.3% from 7 million in 2016 to 7.4 million tourists in 2017.
Tourism Johor is confident that the numbers will rise for the year 2018 and 2019 due to the various completed and ongoing development projects that are related to tourism in the state of Johor such as the Desaru Coast development projects which includes Hard Rock Hotel, Anantara Desaru Coast Resort & Villas, The Westin Hotel, Aman Resort, and the Desaru Coast Adventure Waterpark which is the biggest waterpark in South East Asia.
Among others also include the World Class Indoor Theme Parks at Capital 21, and Sea Life at LEGOLAND Malaysia Resort and B5 Johor Street Market.
What are among the promoted sectors in Johor’s tourism landscape?
Beautiful sceneries and natural attractions such as islands and beaches to the historical heritage and culture is not the only thing that the state has to offer. Tourists and locals are spoilt for choice when it comes to food and lifestyle too, right from shopping to golfing, and the numerous theme parks such as the Angry Birds Activity Park to the Puteri Harbour Indoor Theme Park.
The main tourist sector in Johor at the moment is eco-tourism, agro-tourism, islands and beaches, homestays, golf-tourism, theme parks, sports-tourism and not forgetting, food-tourism.
Tourism Johor has also identified new segments of tourism in the state that has the potential to increase the inflow of tourists to the state which is M.I.C.E-tourism, health-tourism, and education-tourism.
Is there a strategic plan for the 10 districts of Johor in terms of Tourism vision?
Efforts and responsibilities to develop the tourism industry in the state of Johor have been expanded in each district. This is due to the unique nature of each district.
With that being said, the state government through the Johor State Financial Planning Unit (UPENJ) has prepared a Johor State Tourism Blueprint 2014 – 2023, which encompasses the tourism developments in each district through the expansion of 11 tourism clusters and concepts.
How do you find the feedback from local and overseas tourists about Johor in general?
Normally, Tourism Johor would receive feedback from tourists through email, social media and industry players such as tourism agencies, tourist guides, and hoteliers.
Generally, Tourism Johor receives positive feedback from both domestic and international tourists. There are also calls for improvement that comes in, such as the expansion of information dissemination through digital mediums, improvement of infrastructures and support facilities such as sign boards, tourist boards, toilets, maps, and more.
Feedbacks from tourists are important to Tourism Johor as we can benefit by improving our products and quality of service.
What are your thoughts on the integration of environment and health in the tourism industry (i.e. eco-tourism, health-tourism and etc.)?
Eco-tourism has definitely become one of the major attractions for tourists in Johor. There are 5 national parks that are popular among tourists in the state which are Tanjung Piai National Park, Pulau Kukup National Park, Endau-Rompin National Park, Gunung Ledang National Park, and Bekok National Park.
As for health-tourism, Tourism Johor is in the midst of enhancing and improving it so that it becomes one of the sought-after attractions in Johor. There are a total of 16 specialist hospitals in Johor which offers various medical and treatment services.
Tourism Johor believes that the combination of these two tourism sectors will further strengthen the position of the state as a tourist destination that one should visit.
What can we expect in 2019?
Tourism Johor expects more mega development projects in 2019 that will cater to the tourism sector. Also on the forecast is the increase of tourists to Johor in the next year and many more holiday packages will be marketed by tourist agencies within and beyond the country.
Tourism Johor plans to boost promotional campaigns and marketing by organising more tourism events and participation in exhibitions both locally and internationally through traditional and digital mediums.
What is your favourite Johor dish and where can it be found?
I’m fond of Mee Bandung Muar and Asam Pedas especially when I travel to visit my relatives back in Muar at Jalan Abdul Rahman and at Parit Bakar.