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Friday November 2, 2007

Cartoon Siti acts as online envoy


KUALA LUMPUR: Riding on the fame of top local singer Datuk Siti Nurhaliza, Tourism Malaysia has introduced an online female cartoon character named Siti who will provide basic information on Malaysia to travellers via the Internet. 

All that tourists need to do is to add sitimalaysia@hotmail.com as their MSN contact. They will then be able to “chat” with Siti about attractive tourist destinations through the MSN messenger. 

Tourism director-general Datuk Mirza Mohammad Taiyab said Siti had gone online following the success of her introduction as part of Tourism Malaysia's advertising campaign in Japan in the last quarter of 2005. 

Then, Siti only appeared in conventional media, including television commercials, flyers and pamphlets, during tourism campaigns as well as exhibitions. 

“Riding on our success today, we want to move forward and reach more target audience,” he told reporters at the launch of Malaysia Windows Live Agent – Siti here yesterday. 

“In Japan, Siti was well received as the Japanese are fond of cartoon characters. This is the first time we are introducing Siti online.”  

»In Japan, Siti was well received as the Japanese are fond of cartoon characters« DATUK MIRZA MOHAMMAD TAIYAB
Asked whether the cartoon character was named after Siti Nurhaliza, Mirza said: “Siti is a familiar name. It was not specifically named after her but it did take into account Siti Nurhaliza’s popularity in Japan.” 

He said there had been a slight growth in travellers from Japan since the campaign was launched three years ago. 

Japanese tourists visiting Malaysia have increased by 4.2% from 340,027 in 2005 to 354,213 the following year.  

From January to July this year, tourist arrivals increased to 211,633 compared to 193,463 during the corresponding period in 2006, which is an increase of 9.4%. 

Asked how many languages could Siti communicate in, Mirza said she was only tailored to communicate in English at the moment. 

“If it can attract more people from other foreign countries, we will consider adding other languages,” he said, adding that currently travellers could also get information on Malaysia in their own languages through their respective countries' tourism satellite site links.  

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