Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Malaysia Tourism Board, Disappointing
Malaysia Tourism Board invited over 190 journalists from all over the world to witness the opening of Floral Festival 2007, which was part of the Visit Malaysia 2007 program.
From Indonesia, 17 journalists from 10 media – 7 printed media, 3 tv stations -- followed the 5 days trip in Malaysia (Jan 25th to 30th). I got a chance to represent SCTV to go there together with Anca Leksmana (producer) and Bambang Triyono (cameraman). Being invited by the Malaysia Tourism Board, I had a high expectation that it would be a fun and easy trip, in the sense of we would get easy access to explore interesting places in the country.
However, it surprised me that in most of the places written on the itinerary, we couldn’t shoot anything! Actually, when we just arrived at the hotel, the first thing I asked to the Senior Tourism Officer of Malaysia Tourism Board was a simple letter stating that they invited SCTV to come to promote the country for Visit Malaysia 2007, in case we needed it. But, to write such letter, the officer said that they needed two weeks time! Geezz.. Why does it take so long to write a simple letter? I understand bureaucracy might be complicated, but couldn’t they make it simpler to ease the work of the journalists?
So, we were there for 6 days, had an itinerary on hands that looks fabulous from outside but useless. For example, there was a shopping tour program for 5 hours in 2 shopping malls and IKEA. But then, in these malls, it was forbidden to shoot anything. As journalists who work for a TV station, what’s the point going there if we couldn’t record anything? We came to Malaysia to work, not for holidays. We are not tourists.
Another small example, we were scheduled to have lunch at a revolving restaurant at KL Tower. We also couldn’t shoot there and the manager even had no idea that a TV station from Indonesia would come. Being in KL Tower, the 4th tallest tower in the world, it would be such a waste if we couldn’t shoot some scenes from the top of the tower. So, we contacted the PR of KL Tower by ourselves. I got her number from a French journalist who works in KL. We got a good response from her as she realized that it would be a good exposure for KL Tower. Unfortunately, it was Sunday and it was such a short notice. She could only assign a customer service to take us to see the facilities that they have and shoot there. If we contacted her earlier (on the workdays), then she could have arrange a tour to the top of the tower, which is not a public area. Wouldn’t it be amazing?
She wanted the Tourism Board to contact her to confirm that it was true SCTV came on behalf of their invitation. So, we asked the representative of the board to call her. Apparently, she already contacted the Tourism Board in KL herself. And this caused a little bit of a crisis in the board (Malaysia and Indonesia offices). The representative of the board from Indonesia who brought us there, called us up saying that her boss was angry at her and now she looked so stupid and unprofessional in doing her job. So, she warned us not to contact any parties directly in the future. Oh great! Being journalists on a TV station, our job is to get a good picture and produce a good show. If the board didn’t do their homework in arranging permit to shoot in any places, then as journalists, it was our instinct to contact the party directly. Especially, when we could get direct access to the party (journos always know how to get direct access, right? ;))
Being a PR myself, I couldn’t believe how the Malaysia Tourism Board didn’t understand what the media needed. A TV station doesn’t need to go to IKEA and eat at a fancy restaurant if they couldn’t get any story (and picture) out of it. Plus, there are so many nice places in Malaysia that actually we could explore for 5 days, apart from staying in Kuala Lumpur only! Too bad the board didn’t allow us to go outside KL (only to Genting Highlands and Putrajaya). They should’ve created a program highlighting the best spots in the country and most importantly, arranged a permit in each of the places so that we could shoot there freely.
Plus, we got a tour guide that had no experience in guiding the media. She made our days even harder as she always forbids us to shoot here and there, even in Petaling Street (China Town)! Ckckck.. (but we tried to convince her that it was ok to shoot there and if anything bad happens , we wouldn’t blame her. Oyeah, we also managed to drag her to take us to Batu Caves Temple after the Genting Highlands trip. Batu Caves wasn't included in the itinerary, but we had to go there, otherwise we wouldn't have enough images/stories for the show due to all the limitations)
So, 5 days in KL, we felt frustrated. Frustated by the board and… by the tour guide! Hopefully, next year the board does their homework well and knows the needs of each type of the media. If not, it would be such a waste to invite many journos from all over the world if they couldn’t maximize their work during their stay there.
Now you know how frustated we were when filming the show. This is a behind the screen story ;). The "Melancong Yuk" Malaysia episodes will be aired on Saturday, 3 February and Sunday, 4 February at 6.30am in SCTV.
It will be 2 different episodes, full of hard work and lots of candid shots. So, make sure you watch both of them! ;)