AVIATION INTERVIEW WITH NURMALIS MUSA
Chief Executive Officer of Tourism Perak
In her early forties, the Ipoh-born Nurmalis Musa is one of the dynamic women who made it to the C-Suites after her secondment to Tourism Perak in May 2020 from the stint with the Public Services Department. She started as a flight stewardess with Malaysia Airlines after completing her Diploma in Architecture in Universiti Teknologi Malaysia in Skudai, Johor but after three years, our ambitious lass left to pursue her calling, a degree in Mass Communication majoring in public relations from MARA University of Technology.
Nurmalis, who later completed her Master’s degree in Media and Information Warfare, worked briefly with a local hotel handling public relations before joining the civil service as an Administrative and Diplomatic Officer with the Perak Land and Mines Office in September 2007. Her experience involved overseeing the management of rural development at the Batang Padang Land and District Office. Eager to do well in both her work and life, Nurmalis braces herself to adjust and adapt to the new normal arising from the Covid-19 pandemic and is ever ready to rise to the challenges.
Throughout the pandemic, Tourism Perak has been actively organising initiatives to assist the affected tourism industry players. What are some of these initiatives?
To help revive the tourism industry, the state government, through Tourism Perak as its implementing agency, introduced a RM10.84 million Economic Stimulus Package under phase two, which included upgrading the infrastructure of tourism products and facilities. The package also provided technical and vocational training learning, especially to tourist guides with allowance besides offering #TravelPeraklah phases one to three tourism vouchers to accommodation operators, particularly hotels; tourism product owners; travel agencies and event companies.
The state government, in its Budget 2021, has allocated RM1.03 million as a one-off incentive to tourist guides, travel agencies and non-government organisations (NGOs) such as Perak Budget Hotel Operators and Pangkor Island Hotel and Resort Operators.
Through the Perak Sejahtera 2021 Economic Stimulus Package, RM1.1 million was allocated to counter the pandemic’s impact after the imposition of the Movement Control Order 3.0, which resulted in the closure of social and economic sectors as well as lockdowns.
Perak Malaysian Association of Hotels; Umrah, Hajj and Pilgrimage Association (PUHAZ); Perak Homestay Association and boat drivers involved in the tourism industry benefited from this one-off incentive assistance. Tourism vouchers under phase four of #TravelPeraklah were also given to PUHAZ members and Perak spa operators.
What is Tourism Perak’s focus for 2022?
Our main focus is based on five pillars. The first is to maintain Perak’s position as a destination of choice by intensifying in-person promotional programmes via participation in domestic and international fairs. The objective is to convey timely information and introduce our latest tourism products. We will continue staging various events in Perak to indirectly attract tourists for day trips or overnight stays besides maintaining and upgrading tourist facilities for added value and to enhance customers’ satisfaction.
The second pillar aims to develop the tourism sector in a sustainable and inclusive way involving various industries such as arts, culture, sports, heritage and the environment with the local government while the third pillar is to maximise the utilisation of digital platforms.
The fourth pillar targets to improve perception and increase tourists’ confidence by projecting Perak as a safe destination. We have a strategic collaboration with the Fire and Rescue Department Malaysia to conduct Covid-19 disinfection and sanitisation standard operating procedure (SOP) training for lodging and restaurant operators as well as tourism product owners-cum-operators.
A series of empowerment and assessment exercises will be implemented to enforce and audit the SOPs implemented for tourism products and premises in order to determine their readiness and compliance before receiving tourists.
The last pillar involves intensifying engagement sessions with industry players, government agencies, private sector and NGOs by conducting programmes like meet and greet or briefings. Under the Economic Stimulation Allocation Package, we have a Tourism Perak Recovery Programme or DREAM 2022-2023 focusing on increasing the citizens’ income through the development of infrastructure; resources via human capital enhancement; events; advertising and promotion; marketing and management.
Please elaborate on your third pillar (maximising digital platforms’ usage).
We are proactively opting for the digitalisation of promotional programmes to ensure that tourist information is relayed more effectively and efficiently, for example, through e-brochures and digital marketing. We have seven social media platforms as the official medium to provide information to domestic and international tourists based on targeted segments and themes.
We deploy Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tiktok, YouTube and Weibo besides having our own website. We have two postings on our social media accounts on different topics and information at noon and 6 pm daily to help entrepreneurs in Perak promote their locations and tourism products. We also use key opinion leaders, tapping on their respective social media sites to promote our silver state.
How did Perak perform in terms of tourism in 2021?
Despite the pandemic’s harsh impact on the industry, Perak remains a favourite tourist destination. The state recently bagged several Malaysia Tourism Council Gold Awards 2021, with Tourism Perak recognised as the Best Tourism Safer Destination, Majlis Perbandaran Taiping for Best Sustainable Tourism Programme, Lost World of Tambun for Best Theme Park and Kellie’s Castle for Best Historical Unique Destination.
Tourism Perak recently participated in MATTA Fair 2021. How was the response at the Perak pavilion and what more could be done at such consumer fairs in future?
We not only assisted eight Perak tourism product operators in reviving their business but also recorded RM160,000 sales during the two-day participation at MATTA Fair, which serves as a strategic platform for our product operators to repackage their products and destinations after the pandemic. We intend to focus on specific themes such as eco- tourism, heritage and food in future shows.
Tell us about your recent trip to Expo 2020 in Dubai to promote Perak.
Participating in international exhibitions abroad is one way for Perak to reach out to the global audience and raise our profile as an outstanding tourism destination in preparation for the much-anticipated reopening of the international borders. The state’s delegation to this prestigious ‘World Expo’ from December 26, 2021 to January 1, led by Perak Menteri Besar Dato’ Seri Saarani Mohamad, was accompanied by some 52 officials from various agencies involved in tourism.
Tourism Perak provided the platform for our state tourism operators to join this Expo hosted by Dubai during Week 13 at the Malaysia Pavilion under the auspices of Tourism Malaysia with eco-tourism as the theme. We showcased our unique tourism products, eco-tourism destinations besides offering value for money to many interesting places involving nature, caves and islands.
What are the attractions Perak is promoting to the Middle East?
Expo 2020 Dubai serves as a golden opportunity to highlight Perak’s latest tourism attractions using the tagline #TravelPerakLah, which was initially intended for the domestic market. They include the Maze Garden at Tanjung Tualang Tin Dredge No. 5 Heritage Site and Silverlakes Village Outlet @ Kinta Valley, which will be ready by mid-2022.
We also highlighted Egret Island in Teluk Intan, 7 Lata at Selama district, which is popular for white water rafting and all- terrain vehicles, the broken embankment in Tanjung Piandang, Kuala Kurau and Lat’s House & Gallery. This Malay wooden traditional house was inspired by the popular Kampung Boy comic book illustrations by our legendary Perak-born cartoonist Mohammad Nor Mohammad Khalid, generally known as Datuk Lat.
As a career woman, how do you juggle between the home front and work?
It is always a challenge to manage the work- life balance. I wake up early in the morning to ensure I get as much done before I head out to work. I prioritise my urgent tasks and plan my work calendar carefully so that I can deliver and at the same time minimise stress.
Do you have time for hobbies?
I am a cat lover and have 65 cats of various breeds living with me. Most of them are strays I rescued over the years and I have a cat sitter to assist me. These cats have become part of my family and loving them is a full-time job!