GEORGE TOWN: The state has no say when it comes to the issue of giving kickbacks or incentives in the state tourism industry.
Penang Tourism Development, Culture, Arts and Heritage Committee chairman Danny Law in saying this described giving kickbacks as something normal in generating business within the tourism industry.
Asked to comment on an article by Malaysia Outlook which had highlighted the current state of the tourism industry in Penang, said to be surrounded with controversy after several industry players complained of corruption, under-the-table arrangements and unsavoury deeds, Law said it had been a practice for the past thirty years to provide certain incentives to spur tourism in the state.
Asked whether there was a guideline or ceiling “price” to regulate such incentives given to tour operators, Law replied: “How can we monitor how much they are giving out or if one undercuts others?
“It’s a business and as far as we’re concerned, if it’s healthy competition then it is really up to them how they go about with the arrangements.”
Law, who is also DAP’s Batu Lancang assemblyman, claimed so far there had been no complaints about the situation.
Yesterday, Malaysia Outlook carried an article on how under-the-table payments, intimidation tactics, corruption and other issues were said to be plaguing the tourism industry in Penang with industry players warning that the industry is heading for doom if nothing is done to tackle the situation.
Malaysia Outlook also spoke to players in the tourism sector in Penang, frequent visitors to the state with one being a specialist on global theme parks and tourism.
Sim Choo Kheng, the founder and CEO of Dubai-based Sim Leisure Group, whose company has designed and built high-profile theme parks in more than 50 countries, told Malaysia Outlook that corruption was the order of the day in the tourist attraction business in Penang.
Law who was met in his office after a press conference on an orchid show to be held in Penang next month said as far as tourism is concerned in Penang, it is showing healthy growth with a steady increase of tourists into the state.
“Penang is expected to record seven million visitors this year as tourist arrivals have been increasing and last year we recorded 6.5 million tourist arrivals, exceeding the expected 6.25 million.
“This year until May, we already saw an increase of 8.7 per cent in passenger movements, at this rate, we will reach 7 million passengers this year so if tourists are unhappy with the so-called problems why do we still see a steady increase over the years?” he asked.
As for the closure of several tourist attractions such as the 3D museums around George Town, Law attributed it to the high entrance fees.
He said tourists will stay away if there are other attractions which offer better quality products at lower prices.
“The normal complaint is that the tickets or entrance fees are too high so of course they will look for other places to visit,” he added. – MO