GEORGE TOWN (April 23, 2008): By Opalyn Mok and Bernard Cheah
A proposal to set up a Penang Tourism Council (PTC) will be submitted after the federal government ordered the Penang Tourism Action Council (PTAC) to stop reporting to the ruling state government.
Penang Tourism Development Culture, Arts and Heritage Committee chairman Law Heng Kiang said the state tourism industry was now in a state of confusion and that the Penang Development Corporation (PDC)'s tourism division is currently handling the situation.
"Because of the Tourism Ministry's action, we are still trying to locate and gather information on the state's tourism calender of events," he added.
Law said: "As it stands now, PTAC is organising its own tourism events without informing us while many other organisers of tourism events are at a loss as to who to approach on their upcoming events.
"To clear up the confusion, I have proposed the setting up of the PTC. The tourism industry is suffering because of this confusion so I will forward this proposal to set up our own stand-alone PTC to the state exco tomorrow for approval."
Law told a press conference yesterday that PDC would be handling tourism activities for the state until the PTC is formed.
"Now, many organisers still go to PTAC if they need to discuss with us about tourism events and this resulted in us not knowing what is happening," he said.
Law urged event organisers to contact the PDC Tourism Division directly at 04-6340111 for now.
"We also want all those who had signed agreements and liaised with PTAC on any upcoming events or functions to come to us and brief us about it as we do not have any documents or files on these," he said.
An example is the Penang Bridge Run which slated for June.
"We are in the dark over this event and do not know whether it is still on or cancelled or postponed. We hope the organisers will come to us instead of only going to PTAC," he said.
Law has also written to the Tourism Ministry to seek an appointment with minister Datuk Seri Azalina Othman to discuss the funding of the upcoming Dragon Boat Club Crew World Championship, a prestigious world event, to be held here in July.
"The ministry has promised to allocate RM1 million for the event but so far they had released only RM500,000 to PTAC but had ordered PTAC to withhold the fund," he said.
He said the ministry should not be doing this because the international event will put Penang and Malaysia on the map.
"We need the funding to organise a successful event. This event not only benefits the state's tourism but also the country's tourism, so we hope that the ministry will consider releasing the funds and fulfilling its pledge to allocate the balance of RM500,000 for the event," he said.
Late last month, Azalina announced that the ministry is terminating its Memorandum of Understanding on tourism with the five Pakatan Rakyat state governments.
She said the respective states' Tourism Action Councils will have its own chairmen while the state tourism excos will no longer chair the council meetings.
Funding, previously disbursed to the state financial officers, will now be channelled through federal authorities.