Sunday, September 25, 2011

Tourism and Petty Traders

"The tourism industry in Malaysia is an important foreign exchange earner, contributing to economic growth, attracting investments and providing employment. The focus of the government is to enhance the country's position as a leading foreign tourist destination, while promoting domestic tourism. Opportunities abound for entrepreneurs, business owners and investors who support the government's direction."

In promoting any industry in Malaysia, it is normal that those who are already established in the trade and industry will benefit the most. Beginners in the trade or small scale industry will have to crawl behind experienced professional and well-honed operators with extensive resources. Unless government help the beginners and the 'trotters' their efforts will end up in a disaster or a 'take-over' by the more resourceful operators.

There are many ways in which an established operator or company can 'smoother' a beginner in any trade or industry. Buy him or her over is a popular way if the beginner is starting to hurt the company's sales. Undercut the beginner's price is another way. If the beginner is operating on or near the company's premise, push him or her out. There are many excuses that can be given like the company is revamping or overhauling the place.

What the government might not be aware of is that a redevelopment, relocation or modernization plan can be used to get rid of petty traders or the beginners in the trade, When they are not considered healthy for the big operators. An official plan can be drawn to clear up the place where the beginners are operating and beginning to have their own group of clients and customers.
They can even be promised a better premise for business once the work is done, a more sophisticated accommodation, and even a substantial loan or assistance....

But, DiSRUPT A BUSINESS WHICH IS JUST GETTING ESTABLISHED AND THE BUSINESS IS GONE. The new premise could be most modern, beautiful and convenient, but the operating cost could be beyond the means and resources available to a beginner. Nor could he or she stand the competition from the more established operators. The rent for the premise itself could put the beginner out of league. And once the old clients are gone, business is over.

So, don't think that a modernization, relocation, redevelopment, revamping plan etc will always provide a new opportunity for the beginners in trade and industry. Especially when the job is being handled by an authority that could be persuaded by partisan interest or where the racial balance of business opportunity is involved.

In the tourism industry, marketing the traditional and local culture is most important. It's the traditional and local object d'art which attracts foreign tourists the most, including local tourists from different states and artistic background. So the petty traders supporting the tourist industry are usually the villagers turned traders, beginning to venture into the field. They need all the support of the government to graduate into real businessmen to balance up the racial economic imbalance which is essential for maintaining national unity.

Do not, therefore, allow the modernization, relocation, redevelopment, revamping or whatever other plans government has, to disrupt whatever roots the petty traders have established in or on the periphery of the city center. Give them time to grow. Open up new shopping areas by all means but don't push them away until the new premises are ready for them. Better still they should be allowed to start a new business in the new premises and the old premise be vacated after the new one has been properly established.

Don't let the efforts to modernize, relocate, redevelop, or revamp places where petty traders are beginning to take root be uprooted or you're uprooting the basic units or the tourist industry. Remember that luxury hotels, seaside resorts, sprawling shopping complexes are more plentiful in the developed countries. Our competitive edge lies in the local and traditional culture and works of arts as handled by the small scale entrepreneurs.


kaykuala said...

Akhi Norzah,
Small business start-ups catering for tourists can be a frustrating venture. Competition is stiff, locations not ideal and often the 'Malls'are empty (of traders not buyers)(Datuk Keramat, Pantai Dalam)The products for sale are often similar to the next stall.

A lethal factor now staking a claim is the proliferation of Indon traders nearby operating on their own or a proxy of a local or even of their kind. Are these the kinds included in your narration Akhi?
If they are then be prepared for a slow and painful onslaught that will eventually displace the locals from the scene!


norzah said...

Thank you for pointing out the difficulties and frustrations facing the petty traders catering for the tourists or involved in the tourism trade, Akhi. Yes, I see many of them disappearing from the Malls and even the bigger shopping complexes. Plainly they cannot compete with the more established and bigger shops or stores. They need government's help or otherwise the whole lot of them will just "gulung tikar".

Now those in the less hectic parts of KL, occupying empty government lots and vacant spaces between shophouses and government buildings, are also being chased away. Reason, to make room for redevelopment,
modernization, revamping etc. True some Indons might also have taken roots there, and that poses another issue. But in places which have become the starting point for local small-scale traders and entrepreneurs, being harassed and driven away will certainly kill their business. I am referring to them mainly. Especially when they are left to the mercy of the landlords, the big operators renting the area, and even the local authorities. Who is going to help them whereas they are the 'soldiers" of the emerging bumiputra entrepreneurial army?