What gives Perlis the edge as a true candidate for investment over its fellow Malaysian states?
Can Perlis offer the private sector the opportunities it seeks to make initial business investment?
As part of the NCER (Northern Corridor Economic Region) there are many projects such as the upgrading to double tracks and electrification of the railtrack between Ipoh and Padang Besar on Malaysia’s northern border with Thailand.
This will enable high speed transit between Singapore and the Thai border as well as giving Perlis business easy access to the close by Penang Port which is also due for expansion under the NCER.
From a potential business perspective investors should look to what the state already has and without doing any intensive research there are numerous possibilities that spring to mind that would boost the Perlis economy and be a perfect fit in this northern land of opportunity.
2009 saw 1.7 million visitors using the Kuala Perlis ferry service with the vast majority being holiday makers en route to Langkawi.
Many of these tourists plan their holidays in advance and if the Perlis tourist industry could concentrate on promoting their existing attractions it is entirely feasible that many of these tourists would decide to spend 1 or 2 days longer in Perlis instead of just travelling straight through.
There are no theme parks in Perlis, with 1.7 million transient visitors (and this figure is likely to increase) a theme park close to Kuala Perlis/Kangar would be a very tempting diversion before arriving in Langkawi.
Also, how many of the quarter million population of Perlis travel outside of the state to treat their kids to a day at a theme park?
Another figure worthy of dissemination is the 383,000 tourists who entered Malaysia through the Padang Besar border crossing in 2009 (likely to increase year on year) whereby most of them just sailed straight through Perlis without giving it a second look. Again, ask yourself why?
The islands of Langkawi are a magnet for the yachting fraternity but how often do these nautical tourists set foot on the shores of Perlis? If Perlis can reward visitors of any ilk with entertaining tourist attractions and aggressively promote them then there is no reason why tourism cannot further stimulate the states economy.
The lack of Spa resorts in Perlis is also striking when considering the vast terrain of picturesque hills covered in primary rainforest.
Then there is one of the most stunning coastal drives in the country northbound for 18.7 km from Kuala Sanglang to Kuala Perlis.
Not many people use this route so consequently it is a little known gem that could spawn all sorts of economic possibilities for tourism.
The port town of Kuala Perlis hauls in more fish than any other port in Malaysia and the Malaysian Fisheries Development Board has submitted a proposal to the state government for building a new jetty which will be the biggest in the country.
This sector of the economy has huge potential for the processing of marine products and any marine based industry including shipbuilding.
The endless miles of padi fields are testament that agriculture is the main economic driver of the states economy and further strengthening in the sector courtesy of the NCER is evident with 0.4ha of greenhouses in Sungai Batu Pahat that will grow paprika chilli plants. Over 12,000 plants will be planted with the first harvest due in mid 2012 expected to yield 1.2 million chillies.
The Northern Corridor Implementation Authority (NCIA) are working hard looking at ways of developing the Malaysia Thailand crossing points to improve bilateral trade before the completion of the extra freight capacity that the Northern Railway upgrade will deliver by Q4 2013.
The dry port currently undergoing facility upgrades at Padang Besar is part of this plan to expand the chain in services, supply, logistics and to generally enhance the economic landscape of Perlis.
Perlis is the smallest and probably the least developed state in Malaysia but in terms of potential; The opportunities available are immense.