THE tourism industry is among the sectors affected by the pandemic, as many countries have closed their doors to visitors to curb the spread of Covid-19.
Malaysia also felt the impact when the tourism and culture industry suffered losses estimated at RM45bil in the first six months of this year.
Despite the situation, Malaysia Productivity Corporation (MPC) through Tourism Productivity Nexus (TPN) initiative launched a pilot project called Malaysia Virtual Experience (MyVXp) with the theme “Digital Tourism Unlimited” in May 2020 to embrace the new normal and it is now starting to show positive results.
Targeting 1,000 prototypes, MyVXp is an online experience package featuring attractions, destinations and tourism products in Malaysia, whereby it will become a new standard in tourism, virtual adventure and virtual travel.
TPN chairman Uzaidi Udanis said that to increase the productivity of the tourism industry, 800 hosts were trained through online mentoring sessions conducted by 14 mentors who have expertise and experience in product innovation, digital marketing and promotion as well as technology adaptation in live virtual presentations.
"The MyVXp mentoring programme teaches industry players five key modules that assist them in product innovation, from offline delivery to online live streaming.
"It can also improve their skills in promoting their products to potential tourists who participate in the live broadcast programme," he said.
Through this programme, Uzaidi said it is one of the alternatives to enjoy the unlimited travel experience, through which people can still “travel” comfortably and safely without having to leave home.
"In fact, in Malaysia itself there are varieties of treasures, destinations and activities that are still waiting to be explored.
“Through MyVXp, we gather industry players with various backgrounds and products to provide a different experience to tourists," he explained.
Among the segments introduced through the platform are Arts and Entertainment; Virtual Adventure; Archaeological and Geological Tourism; Culture and Heritage; History; Crafts; Health; Beauty; Education and more.
MyVXp also provides an opportunity for the mentees to generate income from ticket sales derived from paying attendees who participate in the virtual tourism programme.
In fact, some can earn RM500 after just an hour of live video broadcasting.
"As an industry player myself, I have personally felt the negative impact of Covid-19 on tourism companies and some even had to temporarily close their business and are in a difficult situation due to the lack of cash flow.
"This is the main purpose of MyVXp which is to help industry players generate income by using technology while giving tourists a virtual experience," he said.
MPC Director-General Datuk Abdul Latif Haji Abu Seman said TPN's efforts to produce virtual tourism products are in line with MPC's aspirations in ensuring technology and digitalisation are maximised in increasing industry’s productivity.
Abdul Latif said technology is no longer an alternative in moving forward; it is now a must.
"In an uncertain environment due to the pandemic, technology and digitalisation remain as consistent elements and act as a catalyst for productivity which should be fully utilised," he said.
He added that MPC will continue to implement the mandate through the Malaysia Productivity Blueprint to lead the country's productivity through collaborative efforts with industry players who are key players towards achieving the country's productivity targets.
MyVXp is expected to be completed by the end of this year and individuals interested in joining MyVXp can refer to the Tourism Tourism Productivity Nexus Facebook page.
Tickets are priced between RM15 and RM50 for a virtual experience of 60 to 90 minutes.
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