Selling Malaysia amid an evolving tourism landscape

PETALING JAYA: The business of “selling” Malaysia is getting busier with at least 100 events being planned by Tourism Malaysia to promote the country everywhere – from Vietnam to Sweden.Its director-general Datuk Dr Ammar Abd Ghapar said sales missions were held in Hong Kong and Taiwan in January, roadshows in Nordic countries (Finland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark) besides campaigns in several Indian cities such as Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Ahmedabad.

“We have also participated in the prestigious International Tourism Fair FITUR 2023 in Madrid, Spain,” he said.

He added that Tourism Malaysia has had a significant presence on the regional stage, citing its attendance at the Asean Tourism Forum in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, in February.

Malaysia was also promoted at the Nguyen Hu Flower Street Festival in Ho Chi Minh City, the Tehran International Tourism Exhibition in Iran and South Asia’s Travel and Tourism Exchange 2023 in New Delhi.

More recently, Tourism Malaysia led a marketing campaign to promote the country at the Arabian Travel Market 2023 in Dubai and the Seoul International Travel Fair 2023 in South Korea.

The agency, he added, also spearheaded a tourism sales mission to Bahrain and Kuwait, capitalising on the continued growth of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.

Ammar was optimistic about Malaysia’s tourism industry, citing factors such as the people’s friendliness, a reasonable cost of living, high-quality medical care, cultural heritage, unique natural attractions and the captivating local arts, history and cuisines.

These attributes gave Malaysia a robust competitive edge and unique selling points, he said when contacted.

To ensure the sector’s recovery and long-term resilience, he said that Tourism Malaysia would focus on restoring travellers’ confidence by promoting Malaysia as a safe travel destination.

Simultaneously, the agency will embrace digitalisation, reskilling and upskilling of the tourism workforce, promote inclusive and sustainable tourism development and strengthen public-private partnerships, he added.

Ammar said the objective was to attract high-quality tourists who will extend their stay and contribute more to the country’s economy.

“Travel is evolving in the ‘post-pandemic’ era, focusing on personal and meaningful experiences, a preference for less crowded, nature-based destinations.

“Travellers are opting for longer, more immersive journeys,” he said, adding that inflation may affect travel but would not deter it entirely.

“Staycations and local getaways may become more popular, while digital nomads and remote work opportunities will encourage longer trips that blend business and leisure.

“Responsible and sustainable tourism is gaining prominence, alongside flexible booking and refund options, reflecting the changing landscape of travel preferences,” he said.

Tourism Malaysia would focus on niche tourism segments such as ecotourism, community-based tourism (CBT), medical and wellness retreats, edu-tourism and experiential travel, Ammar added.Tourism Malaysia would also prioritise digital marketing and sentiment-based promotions as the tourism industry undergoes digital transformation.

The agency aims to leverage platforms like Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), YouTube and TikTok to connect with a global audience.

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