PERAK is banking on its star tourist sites - Royal Belum Forest and Lenggong Valley - to attract at least three million domestic and foreign tourists to the state next year.
Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir said local tourists currently made up a bigger percentage of tourist arrivals and that Visit Perak Year (VPY) 2012 sought to increase the number of foreign tourists to the state by 40%.
This he hoped to do with the state’s world-class attractions namely Royal Belum’s 130 million-year-old forest and Lenggong which has been nominated to be a Unesco world heritage site.
“With three million tourist arrivals, we are looking at hundreds of thousands of ringgit in income for the state and the people,” he told reporters after unveiling the official logo of VPY 2012 at Dataran Ipoh on Saturday night.
Serene: A file picture of visitors to the Matang mangrove forest reserve taking a relaxing walk along a 1.4km boardwalk from the reserve’s eco-education centre at Kuala Sepetang.
Themed “Yours to Discover”, the VPY 2012 logo bears a Kingfisher to represent the different species of birds in the state as well as the Rafflesia of Royal Belum and the labu sayong (water pitcher) of Kuala Kangsar.
Dr Zambry told reporters various programmes were in store for tourists during VPY 2012.
“Nature lovers would be enchanted by our century-old tropical rainforests and the Rafflesia in Royal Belum.
“The 50,000-year-old Lenggong Valley is one of the earliest archaeological sites in the world based on the discovery of the Perak Man,” he said.
Perak Man, said to be 11,000 years old, is the only prehistoric skeleton in the world born with the congenital deformity Brachymesophalangia Type 2.
“In Perak, there are a lot that people do not know about. For example, there are some 500 different species of birds here as compared to other places in the world. Even Taiwan, which is considered to have many types of birds, is home to only 300 species.
“In Royal Belum itself, we have 10 species of hornbills,” Dr Zambry said, adding that Kuala Sepetang was beautiful at night due to its colony of fireflies.
Apart from nature and history, Dr Zambry said Perak, especially Ipoh, was also known to be a food heaven.
“Even now, we have Singaporeans driving up to Ipoh on weekends just for the food here. Ipoh is popular for its food,” he said.
Earlier in his speech, Dr Zambry said the success of VPY 2012 depended on not just the state government or tour agencies but largely on the people of Perak.
“Each one of you is an ambassador for our state. It is you who will determine if VPY 2012 works out or not.
“You see, it is the smile that we give to our visitors that will be remembered and etched in their memories long after they have returned home,” he told the crowd.