Studying the cultural richness of Penang
PENANG NOT ONLY BOASTS a rich heritage steeped in history, but has the power to fascinate and enchant its visitors, even domestic tourists.
“Penang, with its UNESCO history city status still keeps all the old buildings. This includes the unique street arts that are believed to have been there a long time,” said Victoria Asong Stephen after an educational field trip to Penang from August 28 to September 1 with a group of university mates and lecturer.
“In Sarawak, we take pride in nature as our main tourism product, but in Penang, its cultural heritage is what makes it interesting,” she said when asked to compare both states and their tourism industries.
Victoria, who is now doing her diploma course on tourism management at MARA University of Technology (UiTM) Samarahan, said the visit was inspiring because it gave them the opportunity to meet, greet and have fun together with people in Penang while doing their part in giving back through Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programmes.
One of their CSR projects included a visit to an orphanage called Rumah Permata Kasih.
“We never knew that we could actually lend a helping hand across the sea from Sarawak to these precious little children in Penang. It really inspired us because our feeling of empathy grew,” she said.
The five-day trip – HOTOUR: Education Tours to Penang; the Pearl of the Orient – was organised by UiTM Samarahan’s Faculty of Hotel and Tourism Management in conjunction with Visit Malaysia Year 2014.
The UiTM group included 17 final-year diploma students in tourism management and a lecturer Yaziz Kasim who specialises in tourism development.
The objectives were to teach students on how to create an interesting and value for money tour package; teach them how to organise and implement the tour; give them an opportunity to apply the knowledge learned in class into a real tour environment starts from planning of the tour package until it is implemented; to build up student’s confidence level in communication and negotiation skills when dealing with tour members and tourism suppliers.
Penang was chosen as the tour destination for several reasons and one was that the group wanted to experience tourism products quite different from those found in Sarawak.
Victoria said meeting with the people in Penang gave them an opportunity to expand their social circles and gain more knowledge on other places beneficial to tourism students. She regards their CSR activities as the most interesting part of their visit.
“The most interesting part of the visit are the CSR activities that we managed to carry out there which included the beach cleaning at Penang National Park and the activities in Rumah Permata Kasih.
“At Rumah Permata Kasih, we did general cleaning around the compound of the orphanage and organised coloring contest with the orphans. We find this the most interesting part because we can lend a helping hand without expectations of reward. This is the core of CSR,” she said.
Among other places that the group visited during the trip were:
• Penang Hill or often referred to as Bukit Bendera,
• Kek Lok Si Temple, which is said to be the largest Buddhist temple in Southeast Asia,
• The Camera Museum, that enables visitors to discover fascinating vintage cameras from all over the globe and experience the evolution of cameras,
• The Pinang Peranakan Mansion, the typical home of a rich Baba of a century ago recreated to offer a glimpse of their opulent lifestyle and of their many customs and traditions,
• Komtar Tower, Penang’s tallest building and the sixth tallest building in Malaysia, a multipurpose complex consisting of retail outlets, transportation hub and administrative offices for the Penang State Government,
• Padang Kota Lama, parade ground and playing field created by the British colonials in the civic district of George Town,
• ESCAPE Theme Park, a family theme park with exciting and challenging activities that promote good health in the great outdoors,
• Batu Ferengi, beach area with famous numerous large hotels, restaurants, transport rental services, and souvenir stores along the area,
• Sweetenham Port, better known as the Port Klang, the largest port in Malaysia,
• Penang Toy Museum, with more than 110,000 toys, dolls and other collectible items making it the largest toy museum in the world,
• Gurney Drive, Penang’s most popular tourist destinations, famous for the “hawker food” sold from food stalls located along the seafront,
• Gurney Plaza, a shopping mall located at Gurney Drive promenade in George Town, and Tourism Malaysia Penang.
“From this trip, we learnt the basic skills of creating a tour package and hopefully, in the future, we can create a real package of our own as one product that has the potential to be sold.
“Besides that, we also learnt the importance of doing work in a group and building good relations with the related authority, apart from gained knowledge and opportunity to have a very insightful experience,” Victoria said.
The visit is also aimed at connecting UiTM Samarahan students with the community in Penang before, during and after the visit besides meeting their course syllabus on tour planning and design.