Plants are afoot to encourage visitors to stay longer than one night.
Eighteen million tourists are estimated to visit Melaka in 2019, up from the 17 million visitors recorded in 2018, yet many do not stay overnight. Out of that, only about 1.5 million visitors stay overnight — that’s less than 10%, As the second most popular tourist destination in the country after Kuala Lumpur, that’s not a very encouraging number.
Out of the 17.02 million tourist arrivals to Melaka in 2018, 11.33 million or 66.6% were domestic tourists while the remaining 5.68 million or 33.4% were foreign visitors coming mostly from China, Singapore, Indonesia, Taiwan and Vietnam. That means even the bulk of foreign visitors are not staying overnight.
Why is that so?
From anecdotal evidence, the main gripe of visitors is that there are a limited number of sightseeing attractions to be seen in a very compact area in the historic core. After the obligatory visits to A Famosa, the Stadthuys. Church of St Paul ruins, Hang Tuah’s and Hang Li Poh’s well, Jonker Street and even a cruise on the Melaka River or a tricycle ride, visitors are at a loss what to do. [rml_read_more]
For lack of something to do, they would probably go museum hopping to the various mini museums scattered around in the city like the Illusion 3D Art Museum, Magic 3D Art Museum, Melaka Stamp Museum, Hang Tuah Museum, Melaka Islamic Museum, Toy Museum Melaka, House of Museums Melaka, Royal Malaysian Customs Department Museum , Malaysia Prison Museum, Malaysia Architecture Museum, Melaka Literature Museum, Kite Museum, Governor’s Museum, Education Museum, Baba & Nyonya Heritage Museum, Maritime Museum, and Submarine Museum.
Yes, Melaka probably has the largest number of museums per square foot in the country! It is a historic city and Malaysia’s oldest city after all, a living museum earning it a UNESCO World Heritage Site status.
Beyond that, they could visit the beaches, temples, Upside Down House Melaka, The Shore Oceanarium, Mini Malaysia & ASEAN Cultural Park and the list goes on. There are also hidden gems like a Husky Cafe, Coral Wonderland, Melaka Tropical Fruit Farm, Baboon House Restaurant and others. Then they do what all other visitors to Melaka do — buy the required food souvenirs like the unique Melaka pineapple tarts, dodol Melaka, belacan, cincalok and Dula Melaka. For foodies, they can hop from one famous restaurant to another. Sure, at night, Hard Rock Cafe, Mixx Club and a few pubs along the Melaka River and nearby as well as in Melaka Raya, keep the night owls entertained. There is also an ongoing musical, Encore Melaka at Impression City, a 360-degree rotating auditorium with multiple stages. But for families, that’s about all there is unless they visit several theme parks outside the core area like Melaka Wonderland and A’ Famosa Water Theme Park and Old West. That’s already one day if you stretch it from early morning to late at night. What do you do the next day?
The State government has been scratching its head trying to think of more attractions to lure visitors to stay longer than one day. One of its initiatives is Visit Melaka Year 2019 in which a number of activities were planned to draw in visitors. Another new tourism product is to build floating chalets on the Straits of Malacca.
The private sector is not sitting still either. Several initiatives are underway, for example, Melaka’s largest water theme park is expected to be unveiled by early 2020 while Sheng Tai International has plans to bring in international artistes and singers to perform in Melaka. Already, they have managed to get Engelbert Humperdinck to perform at their Ames Hotel. Since the concerts are usually at night, it’s guaranteed to get concert goers stay overnight.
In five years’ time, when The Sail, one of Melaka’s most iconic mixed developments, is completed, there will a concert hall that can seat 4,000 — 5,000 people. Also, within the same development, there will be a spinoff of Jonker Street, namely Melaka-Nanjing Square, which will feature eateries and shops from all over the world, a modern re-enactment of Melaka’s thriving days 500 years ago.
So, what next for Melaka? The answer perhaps lies in creating new tourism products such as ecotourism and agritourism, something that’s outside the historic core. The state government is looking into this and hopefully it achieves the goal of getting more visitors to stay overnight.