Here are some recap of development in travel for 2018.
The logo issue
What does an orangutan, a proboscis monkey and a turtle have in common with each other? Well, they are featured on the Visit Malaysia 2020 logo ... all wearing sunglasses!
Taking after the shape of a postage stamp, the logo features the Petronas Twin Towers, and the aforementioned animals on a beach. It bears the tagline: Travel. Enjoy. Respect.
The divisive artwork drew so much flak from netizens when it was unveiled at the Asean Tourism Forum in Thailand earlier this year. Some local graphic designers then took it upon themselves to design their own logos and shared them on social media.
The Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry has since announced that the logo will be redone.
Hotels sick of influencers
There’s no sign of social media influencers going away anytime soon. But their presence are also ruffling the feathers of some hoteliers. Earlier this year, the owner of The White Moose Café hotel in Ireland vented his frustrations on social media after Britain-based YouTuber Elle Darby asked for a five-night free stay with her boyfriend. The luxurious property subsequently banned all social media influencers after Darby rallied her followers against the hotel in a teary video.
Since then, travel technology company Amadeus has revealed that influencers barely have any influence on millenials with regards to travel recommendations.
Closer to home, Malaysian hotel associations remain cautious of social media influencers.
Not welcoming tourists
Overtourism is real, and it’s a major issue that’s increasingly affecting many popular destinations around the world. The phenomenon is where places become overrun with tourists in an unsustainable way. In fact, there was a wave of anti-tourism protests in places such as Ibiza (Spain), Venice (Italy) and Mallorca (Spain) this year. The perpetrators are not the tourists themselves, but rather, the poor management of tourism.
Japan launched a survey on overtourism amid a surge of tourists to the country. There was also the closure of islands: Boracay (Philippines) and Maya Bay (Thailand). The latter suffered from enviromental damages caused by passenger boats that bring up to 5,000 tourists to the islands per day. Maya Bay will remain shut indefinitely.
Tapping into communities
When it comes to travelling in Malaysia, a localised experience is the way to go. Airbnb launched Airbnb Experiences here in March this year and it has been picking up momentum. The platform boasts over 120 unique experiences today. Airbnb Experiences are handcrafted activities designed and led by local experts.
Homegrown travel tech startup LokaLocal is also set to expand, with new funding from a South Korean venture capital firm. The experience-based platform in Malaysia connects travellers to over 800 unique tours and workshops, while creating economic and social impact for local hosts.
LokaLocal is looking at promoting Malaysia’s vibrant culture and art scene through digital opportunities.
Connecting secondary cities
Gone are the days when Malaysians have to travel to Kuala Lumpur just to catch an international flight. This year saw some local airlines increasing connectivity to other cities in the country.
Ipoh folks rejoiced when AirAsia launched flights from the Bougainvillea City to Singapore. The route marks AirAsia’s first international flight from Ipoh. Earlier in March, Malindo Air launched its Ipoh-Medan (Indonesia) route.
Penangites and Sabahans also had plenty of new international routes in their home cities this year. AirAsia launched flights to Hanoi and Phuket from Penang. Meanwhile, Sabahans had even more connectivity options to China (Guangzhou, Tianjin, Nanning, Wuhan and Chongqing), thanks to Malindo Air.