BUKIT LANJAN: Bring in the caravan-for-rent services to help boost tourism?
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BUKIT LANJAN: Bring in the caravan-for-rent services to help boost tourism?
Malaysia Inbound Tourism Association (Mita) president Uzaidi Udanis’ proposal to introduce caravans-for-hire services should be welcomed by all quarters.
The introduction of caravans and parks will benefit not only foreign tourists but also locals.
“Those who oppose the introduction of caravans and parks in the market have no really good reason to do so,” Gerakan Deputy Speaker Syed Abdul Razak Alsagoff said.
“Those who object cited Malaysia’s hot weather, safety and security issues and lack of caravan parks. Hot weather? There’s air-conditioning.
“Safety and security issues are already a concern with or without caravans,” he added.
Syed Razak said accommodation in hotels were getting more and more expensive for travellers and holidaymakers, including Malaysians.
“Using caravans may not be just cheaper, it is more practical, convenient and gives travellers a wider view of Malaysia’s attractions. They can spend more time at wherever they want,” he added.
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“We should not deny ourselves of new products and services. Everything has to start from somewhere and caravans can benefit tourists and help boost tourism earnings,” he added.
Syed Razak said both state and federal governments could “work together to develop caravan parks to help boost tourism”.
Here’s what was reported by on-line news portal Free Malaysia Today (FMT):
"Caravan parks in the making
Sunday, 25 Mar 2018
IMAGINE going on a road trip around Malaysia without checking into any hotel, but spending the night in your own comfortable caravan in a safe and secure park.
That’s the vision that Malaysia Inbound Tourism Association (Mita) president Uzaidi Udanis hopes to realise in the future.
Seeing the potential in creating such a travelling culture in Malaysia, Uzaidi said Mita was working with local governments on the possibility of setting up safe caravan parks all over the country.
“Caravans are like hotels on wheels, equipped with beds, toilets and a small kitchen.
“They just need to park in a secure area at night,” he told Sunday Star.
Uzaidi said travelling via caravans could take off in Malaysia seeing that the country is blessed with states known for various attractions and is connected by land with Thailand.
“Tourists are also getting more adventurous these days and don’t mind driving around to see our nation,” he added.
However, Uzaidi said there is still a lot to be done by Mita and its affiliates in the caravan rental business before such ideas can come into fruition.
“We will need approval from the Land Public Transport Commission to allow such vehicles to be rented out to customers,” he said, adding that Mita was also discussing with the Road Transport Department on this matter.
Commenting on the proposed idea, Deputy Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Mas Ermieyati Samsudin said the ministry welcomed such trends to be introduced in Malaysia to rev up domestic tourism.
“Travelling through caravans is popular overseas including in New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom, and it is expected to have encouraging response in Malaysia,” she said.
However, Mas Ermieyati said a comprehensive study with related agencies must be carried out to set guidelines on such services.
She added that regulations on such services should also be ironed out to ensure caravan rental businesses are conducted legally.
“The recent amendment to the Tourism Industry Act has widened the definition of tourist accommodation premises to include modern and innovative hotels including tube hotels, container hotels, bus hotels and others.
“Hence, premises like caravans can be registered and given star ratings under the category of innovative hotels, based on guidelines set by the ministry and other related agencies,” she said.
March 26, 2018
No caravans in Malaysia, please
|Malaysia’s hot weather, safety and security issues and lack of caravan parks should make us think twice about caravan tourism. (Facebook pic)|
The absence of caravans from the local scene has prompted a tourism association to toy with the idea of promoting an ecosystem to support caravan tourism in the country.
Such an approach is like the old story of two shoe salesmen who were sent by different companies to Africa more than a century ago.
Both went to the same poor African region. Not long after arrival, the first salesman rushed back to his ship before it set sail on the return journey.
His telegraph message from the ship to his company read: “There is no market for shoes here because no one wears shoes.”
The second salesman stayed behind and sent a message from the local telegraph office saying: “No one is wearing shoes here, please ship 10,000 pairs as soon as possible while I set up shop.”
The second salesman was an entrepreneur who saw the opportunity. The story was meant to motivate marketeers to see potential, take risks, and turn obstacles into opportunities.
That was what I learned initially, but I later had a change of mind after growing wiser over the years.
It would have been a marketing disaster if 10,000 pairs of shoes were shipped to a place where people don’t wear shoes or could not pay the price for a pair, regardless of promotions.
In 1982, I drove across Australia starting from Perth and stopped overnight in many towns and cities including Albany, Adelaide and Canberra before ending my trip in Sydney.
The drive was leisurely and made comfortable and convenient by hotels, motels and petrol stations along the way. I approached some tourists in caravan parks to chat and check out their vehicles.
Upon my return, I worked in a car rental service that supplied self-drive vehicles to tourists from Australia on fly-drive holidays in Malaysia. Most of the vehicles were Datsun 1200s, which were very small compared to cars on Australian roads.
From 1974 to 1982, the same car rental company supplied even smaller Datsun 120Ys to Swiss tourists who were gung-ho enough to take delivery of a tiny car with right-hand drive at Changi airport and drive on the left side of trunk roads all over peninsular Malaysia.
In the mid-1980s, a local car rental company called Malaysia Motorhomes offered caravans for rental in Malaysia. It did not take long for it to close down. Since then, there have been many unsuccessful attempts to promote caravans in the country.
There are many reasons why caravan tourism will never be popular in Malaysia.
Hotel rooms in Malaysia have always been relatively cheap and are now even cheaper with private residences available through Airbnb. Such accommodations are easily found even in the smallest or most remote of towns.
It would cost less to rent a car and stay in hotels than to rent a caravan. Those who find checking in and out of hotels cumbersome can always opt for a cruise.
There are few spots in the country where caravans can stop safely and allow occupants to soak in the scenic beauty and ambience of the surroundings. It will not take long before they are harassed by a group of Mat Rempits, either.
Moreover, our hot weather coupled with safety and security issues in isolated areas make caravan tourism unsuitable, unlike in New Zealand, Australia and parts of the US.
There are no caravan parks for them to replenish water and hook up to electricity supply, which is necessary to run the air-conditioning overnight without using the vehicle’s engine.
The local authorities are unlikely to allocate a suitable piece of land for a caravan park, as it could easily be turned into a squatters’ colony. Some old buses and vans may be towed and left there, and converted into living quarters or rented out through Airbnb.
These are unlike food trucks which are in roadworthy condition and are not allowed to hog the same space overnight. Caravan parks with full facilities are costly to maintain, and in the absence of safety and security, tourists would become easy targets for all kinds of crime or fraud.
One or two incidents a year, if widely publicised, is enough to drag down our tourism image. It is better to steer clear of caravans.
CY Ming is an FMT reader.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT."
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