Only Income Generators Qualify as Tourism Products

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Promoting Putrajaya as a sports city and subsequently an extreme sports hub.

Putrajaya Corporation (PPj) plans to make the Putrajaya BASE Jump, an extreme sports event, as one of the tourism products in the federal territory. Its president Dr Aminuddin Hassim said the proposal is in line with promoting Putrajaya as a sports city and subsequently an extreme sports hub, as buildings in the administrative capital are suitable for extreme sports.

He wanted more sports activities to be organised in Putrajaya that could attract an average of 15,000 to 17,000 visitors every weekend for sports and recreational activities. The BASE Jump event was held last Saturday in conjunction with Putrajaya Silver Jubilee Celebration

Shaari Chemat/The Star

Unlike motor racing in circuits and football tournaments played in gated stadiums where limited entrance tickets are sold, open spectacles are free of charge. Hence, any exciting event held at Putrajaya would draw huge crowds with onlookers packed closely together at vantage points, cars parked indiscriminately, garbage strewn, and toilets turned into horror chambers.

Success is assured if PPj is aiming for publicity or to celebrate its anniversary on August 29. But calling the BASE Jump event a tourism product is off the mark. Tourism is business and its products must generate income for the organisers. No business would stage a public event without planning for return on investment or at least contribute to brand building.

Holding a BASE Jump event does not make Malaysia a sportier nation as few people could participate because it is more of a spectator sport, unlike football and badminton played by large number of Malaysians. Those who like to jump off building, antenna, span, and earth (BASE) with a parachute often travel far to participate in such events as few are held.

The Kuala Lumpur Tower promotes BASE jumping to attract more visitors. I had often imagined a high wire strung between the twin 48-storey towers of Berjaya Times Square 666 feet high above with a daredevil walking across and traffic in the city reduced to a standstill. But there are good reasons for owners not to allow dangerous acts on their tall buildings.

Whenever Alain Robert, aka the French Spiderman, reached the top of a skyscraper using his bare hands with the help of a small bag of chalk and climbing shoes, he was always arrested. He never asked for permission, as none would be granted. While dangerous acts are thrilling to watch, one slip could result in death and the stigma may well define the site forever.

Is PPj prepared to risk the image of Putrajaya, our iconic administrative capital, by holding dangerous acts as spectator sports? Over the past two decades, millions of foreign tourists have descended on Putrajaya and left mighty impressed. But if a misfortune were to occur and widely publicised, Putrajaya will be associated with the tragedy, like World Trade Centre to New York.

For more than half a century, whenever access roads were built to waterfalls, local authorities would label such projects as tourism development as they attract hordes of visitors, especially on weekends. But such recreational sites were quickly turned into garbage dumps infested by rats and along with-it leptospirosis, the deadly rat urine disease.

This was because hawkers enjoyed roaring sales with leftover foods and wrappings piled up at these remote sites. But if a concessionaire were first appointed to run a restaurant and chalets and tasked to maintain the area, then such developments could be described as a tourism product that generates income and budget for maintenance to ensure its sustainability.

The views expressed here are strictly those of The True Net reader YS Chan of Petaling Jaya.