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JERANTUT: Tourism industry operators in Taman Negara here are gearing up to reopen their businesses under the new normal due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Although tourism activities at the national park, one of the world's oldest tropical rainforests, came to a standstill since March 18, resort and chalet operators along with tour guides looked at things on the bright side. Pahang Tourism and Culture Ministry chairman Datuk Idrus Yahya said the two months Movement Control Order (MCO) has prompted tourism industry operators to revise their business promotions and make the necessary improvements to help lure visitors. "Some of the operators were relying on old tourism advertisements or promotional videos for their products. Now they have produced new ones with fresh ideas. Some even took the opportunity to learn to make their own online videos and advertisements....once they share it with us, we will help them with the promotional campaigns.

"Marketing strategies are crucial for tourism products so the operators have been studying the possible new tourism potentials near the national park and making the necessary adjustments in order to attract tourists. They joined several social media chat groups to brainstorm fresh ideas and assist each other in the industry," he said when contacted. Idrus said in the past that some of the operators might not have been social media savvy but now understood the importance of the platform and seized the opportunity to learn more especially to help promote their business. Meanwhile, he said the operators in Taman Negara were already drafting standard operating procedures (SOP) for tourism activities under the new normal once the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) is lifted.

He said although the National Security Council (NSC) will be responsible for the SOP the guidelines provided by the local tour guides and operators will provide additional measures at the national park. "The experienced tourism operators here certainly know about safety, and interest of the visitors will be given top priority in drafting the SOP. To ensure proper coordination, the SOPs are shared among the tourism operators and non-governmental organizations involved in tourism. "The tourism industry landscape at the national park will certainly see some changes and everyone has to be prepared to face it. The industry might experience some challenging times but everyone has to work together to overcome it," he said.

Meanwhile, a tour guide who declined to be named said although Taman Negara was set to embrace a new tourism environment once the CMCO ends, he hopes that the SOP for visitors will be more lenient. "Visitors come to the rainforest to release stress and enjoy the amazing surroundings. They can practice social distancing but maybe not required to wear face mask....allow visitors to explore the natural environment," he said, adding Taman Negara remained as a green zone with no Covid-19 cases although the Jerantut district was once a red zone. Meanwhile, the PahangStory Facebook page wrote that Kuala Tahan has a total of 2,234 villagers whereby 568 of them rely on the eco-tourism from the national park by taking up jobs as chalet operators, boat operators, tour guides and floating restaurant operators in Sungai Tembeling.Source - NST

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