KUALA LUMPUR: Batik industry players believe Visit Malaysia 2020 (VMY 2020) is the best platform to showcase and promote local batik to international tourists.
As one of the potential drivers of the economy, batik promotion needs to be intensified to raise its cultural prominence in the eyes of foreigners who could take batik home as souvenirs, boosting the local batik industry.
With millions of tourists expected to visit the country, batik entrepreneurs said batik products needed to be better marketed and promoted in conjunction with VMY 2020.
Noor Arfa Holdings Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Wan Mohd Ariffin Wan Long said the company had laid out plans to promote Terengganu batik to international tourists.
“We are finalising batik-related tourism products to be introduced for VMY 2020, in addition to our existing products,” Wan Mohd Ariffin said.
He declined to divulge details on the new products.
He said to further promote Noor Arfa Batik products, the company would rely on its outlets here.
The company’s brand, Noor Arfa Batik, is one of the industry’s heavyweights, having been in operation for 39 years.
“Many international tourists spend most of their time in Malaysia visiting Kuala Lumpur and other nearby locations.
“They hardly travel to the (peninsula) east coast states, like Terengganu, which are famous for their fine batik products.
“We will make full use of our outlets here to promote our products to tourists,” he said, adding that the company would take part in events and promotions organised by the Malaysian Handicraft Development Corporation (MHDC).
“MHDC has plans throughout the year to promote batik and other local handicrafts, which will have a positive impact on the local batik industry.”
Wan Mohd Ariffin said last year, the company introduced batik sarong in pastel hues, which received an overwhelming response from batik fans, especially young people.
Following that, Noor Arfa Batik started a campaign called “Raja Batik Sarung Malaysia Jangan Pulang Tanpanya” (Raja Batik Sarung Malaysia, Don’t Leave Without It) to ensure that Terengganu batik products continued to be a favourite, with competitive pricing and fresh designs.
VMY 2020 aims to welcome 30 million tourists and is eyeing RM100 billion in tourist receipts, with a campaign focusing on ecotourism, arts and culture.
Last year, Malay-sia welcomed 25.8 million international tourists.
In the first five months of this year, the number of international tourist arrivals reached close to 11 million, a growth of 4.8 per cent compared with the same period last year.
Batik marketer Ong Swee Lyn, who is BatikTree co-founder, said batik should be the prominent culture and heritage product throughout VMY 2020.
“Malaysian batik products will make great gifts as they promote the country and its culture.
“I’d love to see batik being elevated in the tourism consumer market and get a bigger presence at official tourism events.
“Malaysian batik is beautiful in many ways, particularly its patterns and colours.
“I believe the government can do a lot more to promote batik, especially with the coming Visit Malaysia Year 2020.”
She said she hoped that batik would continue to be an important tourism product, even after VMY 2020.
“I don’t want us to focus on batik just for VMY 2020 and forget about it the year after.
“Batik reflects who we are as Malaysians. At the same time, we should play our part so that it remains a relevant tourism product. It is no longer about old traditions, worn by our mothers and grandmothers at home.”
Last year, Malaysia’s handicraft market was worth RM142 million, with batik garnering RM104 million.
Earlier this year, the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry encouraged workers in the private sector to wear batik to work, as practised by civil servants.
Minister Datuk Mohammadin Ketapi said the aim of the call was to help the batik industry expand in the country and abroad.
Meanwhile, plans are under way for local handicrafts, including batik, to be actively promoted next year in conjunction with VMY 2020.
MHDC Sarawak director Azran Arip said besides National Craft Day, which will be held in February next year, events promoting local handicrafts would be held in several states throughout the year.
“The promotion of local handicrafts in states will not only focus on products from that state, but also those from other states,” he said at Kompleks Kraf here recently.
He was speaking after a session discussing the definition and characteristics of Malaysian batik with local batik producers.
He said MHDC was identifying new tourism products to be introduced for VMY 2020.
“We are working on an identity that we can use across local handicrafts to promote Malaysia, an identity we can use for our craft products like batik, anyaman (weaving) and songket, among others.”
He said promotions would be held at tourist hotspots, including hotels