LAST_UPDATEMon, 23 Jul 2018 8pm

Kelantan Has Many Uniqueness To Draw Tourists - UMK Prof

KOTA  BHARU -- Kelantan has many unique characteristics that can be explored and promoted to potentially draw domestic and foreign tourists to the state.

In this regard, the state’s tourism sector may also be developed to stimulate the growth of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and create employment opportunities for the people.

University Malaysia Kelantan (UMK)’s Industry and Collaboration Network director, Prof Dr P Balakrishnan said one of Kelantan’s uniqueness is food.

“Outsiders love to eat Kelantanese cuisine, that’s why some Kelantanese have invested in restaurants in other states and getting good returns,” he told Bernama here.

He said visitors would also be impressed with the state’s ‘wayang kulit’, ‘dikir barat’, ‘mak yong’ and ‘wau’, which have not been widely promoted as tourism products.

“Kelantan is rich in natural beauty – it has rivers, vast beaches, islands in the Kelantan River basin, limestone caves, and Mount Stong which has the highest waterfall in Southeast Asia,” he noted.

From his observation, most of the spots lacked basic amenities such as toilets.

“The casuarina or rhu trees at Senok Beach in Bachok makes one think about similar scenario in Korea; unfortunately the beach has not been developed with proper public facilities to draw local tourists, let alone foreign visitors.

“Tracks can potentially be built along the coastal route for visitors to jog or cycle or enjoy other recreational activities,” he suggested.

Balakrishnan said the state has many historic assets such as mosques and museums; unfortunately there are no tourist guides to show foreign visitors around. 

He believes the state’s tourism industry will see much progress if its downstream sectors particularly transport, accommodation, food courts, restaurants and shopping centres are expanded, which will also indirectly provide more business and employment opportunities for the locals.

He said UMK as an entrepreneurship-based university was ready to assist SMEs by providing them courses on how to run their businesses more smoothly. 

“UMK has taken many initiatives; we can train SME participants in managing their businesses effectively. The university is also working with several large companies like NADICORP Holdings Sdn Bhd to provide funds for interest-free loans to SME participants (micro entrepreneurs ),” he said.

However, at the end of the day, he said, Kelantan must have a good road and highway system to facilitate tourist movement. Sultan Ismail Petra Airport at Pengkalan Chepa also needed to be upgraded with various facilities and connectivity with major ASEAN cities.

As a new source of income for Kelantan, the state government could focus on developing tourism, he opined.