IT is time for people to move to domestic tourism as the borders are closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, said Datuk Dr Ammar Abd Ghapar.
The Tourism Malaysia domestic and events division senior director said Malaysians can help the tourism industry by travelling domestically.
“Many people are used to travelling abroad, but since the borders are closed, why not travel locally? We want everyone, including industry players, hoteliers, travel agents and products to benefit through domestic travels.
“We must help and complement each other by pushing a combination of products, theme park and hotels to the consumers. I am optimistic that domestic tourism can contribute to the industry and economy of the country.
“Tourist guides are still relevant in tourism but they should be more knowledgeable, more professional, more skilled and provide interpersonal services.
“We have to attend to the needs of the people and get to know how they want to travel.
“The readiness in the market is very important. We have to work as a team so that domestic tourism can grow further, ” he said during the ‘Rethink, Reconnect and Reinvent Domestic Tourism’ forum at the World Hospitality, Lifestyle and Entertainment Exhibition and Conference (Whole Penang) 2020 hybrid edition at Setia SPICE Convention Centre in Relau, Penang, on Thursday.
Other panellists in the forum, which was moderated by TIN MEDIA co-founder Presanth Chandra, included Malaysia Association of Hotels (MAH) president Mohamad Halim Merican, MATTA past president Datuk Hamzah Rahmat, Malaysia Tourism Council president Uzaidi Udanis and Tourism Educators Association of Malaysia president Associate Prof Dr Mohd Hafiz Mohd Hanafiah.
Dr Ammar added that although virtual tourism is the trend now, it is not good for the industry.
“Like it or not, when it comes to the tourism industry, we still need physical movement. Bookings can be done online but people have to be there physically and we cannot do it virtually.
“The tourism industry is the first to be affected and last to recover amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The fact is that we cannot do our tour virtually. Even with modern gadgets, tourism involves all five senses, ” he said.
Whole Penang 2020 is expected to inject the much-needed economic boost for over 100 physical and 74 virtual exhibitors at the Setia SPICE Convention Centre from Thursday until today.
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