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City planners must learn from mistakes: Masidi

Published on: Wednesday, June 25, 2014

KARAMBUNAI: Kota Kinabalu City planners must learn from mistakes and experience of other major cities in order to succeed in making the State Capital a tourism city, said Tourism, Environment and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun.

In building a city it must be equated with responsible planning, which is actually easier said than done, he said to open the Global Tourism Cities Conference (GTCC) 2014 at Nexus Spa and Resort, here, Tuesday.

"I believe there is a need to curb the desire to get excessive profit.

Of course in business profits count but it must be profit with responsibility," he said.

Masidi said the nation's capital, Kuala Lumpur City's experience could serve as a lesson for planners, developers and tourism players here in developing the State Capital but at the same time avoid compromising the environment.

"You (Kuala Lumpur) lost the very reason why you want to do the development at first. Building skyscrapers, yes it's nice but it might also cause other problems to city dwellers," he said.

Masidi said Kota Kinabalu City has no facilities to cater for mass tourism compared to major cities in the world like Paris or London.

"I have to admit we are far behind but perhaps that is also one of the attractions," he said, adding Sabah had tried to minimise impact on the environment as much as possible.

He said cities were constantly growing and in a constant state of change, trying to adapt and meet the needs of residents and visitors as well as making it an attractive destination for future visitors by providing experiences and products.

Therefore, he said tourism is a very important element in all policies related to urban development.

"It is not just strategy to provide a competitive product to meet visitors' expectations but a way to develop the city itself and provide more and better infrastructures and conditions to residents," he said.

Masidi said urban tourism required correlation of both internal and external demands as the tourists are not only visitors but relatives and friends as well locals themselves.

The primary elements that attract tourists to visit a city were places for deploying activities and places for spending the leisure time.

"Cities appeal to a broader market, they are easy to reach and they have a lot to offer, this also brings a new spending pattern that can go from those staying in budget hotels to the five star hotel customers with one thing in mind to discover and visit the cities," he said.

Towards this end, Masidi believed participants of the GTCC 2014 would benefit as the presenters and facilitators sharing their views were experts and award winning personalities in urban planning, sustainable tourism development, heritage management and tourism planning.

Urban tourism, if planned, developed and managed correctly, would create benefits to all, he said.

Earlier, Confexhub Group Chairman Datuk Dr Abdul Aziz S.A Kadir said the GTCC 2014 was co-organised by the Kuala Lumpur Tourism Association and Confexhub to assist in addressing issues pertaining to the planning and development of tourism cities.

"This conference supports the growth of the urban industry by delivering universal insights and strategies to conference delegates on planning and developing tourism cities.

"It also provides an excellent opportunity for everyone in the urban and tourism planning community to discuss commercial prospects and opportunities as well as have a better idea on the concept of a global city," he said.

The theme of the two-day conference is "Tourism City Profiling - A Key Driver for Sustainable Growth" and it is being participated by about 300 delegates from various countries.