Tapping South American tourism potential

Chew (left) at a press conference with Melaka Tourism Business Chamber deputy president Dennis Standford (second from left) and committee members.

Chew (left) at a press conference with Melaka Tourism Business Chamber deputy president Dennis Standford (second from left) and committee members.

MELAKA: With the influx of Asian tourists in the historic city, a new tourism body is now looking across the South Pacific Ocean, hoping to woo lookalikes of celebrities such as Jennifer Lopez and Lionel Messi to roam the streets of Melaka.

Newly-formed Melaka Tourism Business Chamber (MTBC) is hoping to drive the local tourism industry to greater heights by focusing on new market segments by tapping into Latin American tourists.

MTBC president Chew Chert Fong said Latin America has a new impact on the global tourism market.

In Argentina and Brazil in particular, nearly a quarter of a million tourists from the continent travelled to Europe and Middle East in 2018.

“We hope to attract them to Malaysia. Tourists from Latin America are considered big-spenders and would help boost the local tourism market.

“Based on statistics by Global Tourism Monitor, Latin Americans, especially Brazilians, spent US$17.1bil (RM74 bil) in 2016 and we must work hard to attract them here,” he said during an interview at Shah Beach Resort here.

Chew said MTBC is making efforts to woo tourists from countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Colombia, as the Latin America segment has increased to a remarkable level and projected to have double-digit increases in 2019 by global tourism players.

“MTBC is hoping to set up an office in Paramaribo, Suriname by the end of this year in an aim to penetrate South America,” he said.

He said Melaka needs to look beyond the arrival of tourists from Singapore, China and Indonesi if it wants the tourism sector to grow.

Chew also said discussions were ongoing to place MTBC under the patronage of the Melaka Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) so that the desired results of tapping new and emerging markets as well as creating more opportunities for local tourism players could be achieved fast.

“MTBC kicked off as an association and we decided to elevate the status to a business chamber to effectively link with international tourism organisations.

“Melaka is the first state to have a business chamber dedicated for tourism development and we will gradually spread our wings to Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Sabah,” he said.

Chew said MTBC will spearhead Intelligence-Tourism (I-Tour) to promote medical and wellness tourism.

“We are also in the midst of coming up with a digital road map for better information, clarifications, advice and support for tourism players.

“MTBC will engage with the media to promote Melaka and other top tourism destinations in Malaysia,” he said.