Malaysia is now capitalising on a fresh niche to promote its image – art tourism.
The first Malaysia Contemporary Arts Tourism Festival, which runs until September, is a project of tourism minister, Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen.
“Because we are so (culturally) diverse – we are Malay, Chinese, Indian – Malaysia has a wealth of artists. It has also a strong contemporary art movement that we have never tapped into, but which we are starting to do,” Datuk Yen Yen recently told Business Traveller. “We used the contemporary theme to kick off activities to show that ours is a cosmopolitan and progressive nation.”
Datuk Yen Yen stressed that it is the private sector that has organised the slew of activities taking place at the same time, not only in the capital, Kuala Lumpur and surrounding areas, but also in other places such as Malacca and Penang."The Ministry of Tourism is here to provide a platform and support them. We are hoping that after this, the event will take a life of its own."
The festival includes exhibits of works by renowned local talents such as Aliya and Farouk Khan, seminars on art appreciation and Malaysia's first art auction, conducted by Harry Butcher Art Auctioneers at Wisma Bently Music from August 1 to 8, 2010 (tel 603 2694 2212).
Last year, Malaysia surpassed its initial arrivals target of 19 million, instead achieving 22.63 million. Datuk Yen Yen believed that initiatives geared toward developing an "art economy" would help in attracting even more visitors. Her plans also include setting up an art bienale in the country similar to those held in Venice or Sydney.
For more details about the festival, visit www.tourism.gov.my/en/contemporaryarts
Margie T Logarta