GEORGE TOWN: Businesses in the tourism sector have been advised to come up with new and innovative ideas to get the industry back on its feet.

Langkawi Business Association deputy president Datuk Issac Alexander said implementation of the movement control order (MCO) to fight the spread of Covid-19 has resulted in a lull in tourism activities.

“As a result, many have also lost their jobs,” he said.

Despite the gloom, the sector can regain its competitive edge with the right approaches.

He said there have to be new and more innovative campaigns to woo tourists.

“For instance, instead of promoting our beaches, we can now promote our jungles,” he told theSun.

Tourists could also be invited to take part in cooking classes hosted by top street food hawkers. Alexander also said educational tourism should also be promoted.

“Help our visitors gain new knowledge about our plants and birds. Make this a part of a holiday package.”

He said to reach a wider audience, local tourism players could form partnerships with their Asean counterparts to jointly fund and market new packages. These packages could include visits to new landmarks.

“TV and movie producers can also be invited to come up with productions that can help promote local destinations,” he said.

He also urged the travel community to seek advertising partnerships with local traditional and new media for futher coverage.

“We must also have a national cultural and food festival to breathe new life back into the industry,” he added.

Alexander said for now however, all those in the travel industry should abide by the MCO to help authorities flatten the pandemic curve so that everything could go back to normal soon.

He expects the downturn in the industry to last until the end of the year.

He also expressed hope domestic tourism could pick up quickly to help the country weather the after-effects of Covid-19.

Kedah Malaysian Nature Society chairman Eric R. Sinnaya said the way forward was through eco-tourism.

“Malaysia’s natural heritage can be a top selling point, rather than shopping or low airfares,” he said.

Langkawi Tourism City Council member Nan Hassan said the island should venture into commercial farming and cultivate high grade fruits and vegetables, including promoting the fish breeding sector.

“This can give tourists a new experience,” he said.

Meanwhile, Penang state executive councillor in charge of tourism, Yeoh Soon Hin, said registered tourist guides could now apply for a RM500 one-off payment under its RM75 million financial aid package.

To qualify, the guide has to be a Malaysian, a registered tourist guide and posseses a valid guide permit.

Yeoh said RM685,000 had been allocated for the purpose, with 1,367 tourist guides expected to benefit from it.