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Tourism Malaysia, Al-Rais Travel launch travel packages

Recent statistics report that Malaysia welcomed 25,228 arrivals from UAE for January-September 2017. Advanced bookings to Malaysia from November 2017 to February 2018 also posted approximately one percent increased.

Riding on this growth and looking to put Malaysia back on the tourism hot spots, Malaysian Ambassador to the UAE HE Syed Mohd Hasrin officially launched ‘Explore & Discover Malaysia’ packages in cooperation with Al–Rais Travel in Dubai.

The attendees for the launch comprised of Malaysian governmental agencies in UAE, airlines partners as well as hotel & resorts’ representatives from Malaysia. The event also witnessed Malaysian culture troupe performance titled cultural dances of Malaysia.

“We are keen to share all the latest initiatives in Malaysia which could be of interest to the UAE market as well as boost awareness on our extensive tourism offerings. The tourism sector is considered one of the main sectors that Malaysian economy depends on so we are keen to meet our visitor expectations not only to visit Malaysia, make Malaysia their home away from home and to increase repeat visitations,” said the Malaysian Ambassador to the UAE HE Syed Mohhd Hasrin.

The spotlight was on Sabah, situated on the island of Borneo, which offers a diversity of nature, cultures, adventure, beaches and varied cuisines catering for adventure enthusiasts.

Al-Rais Travel also expressed keen interest in working closely with Tourism Malaysia to offer new travel experiences and services in Malaysia to the GCC market.

Mohamed Jassim Al Rais, Deputy Managing Director of Al Rais Travel said: “Malaysia as a destination offers family-friendly options while also caters for honeymooners, adventure and shopping enthusiast.”

The packages are launched in collaboration with Emirates Airlines and Oman Air in a bid to boost arrivals from the GCC market.

Making Malaysia more Accessible

What are your plans to promote Tourism Malaysia?

We are considering a few areas in terms of promotions. This would be more dynamic interactions across social media platforms i.e. using the Tourism Malaysia Dubai Facebook (Tourism Malaysia AE). We would also look at consolidating and using a fresh appeal to the emerging youth segment while also widening our appeal to high-income earners. This is being considered by adopting two options – strengthen Malaysia’s brand image through increased awareness of luxury brand offerings and product and service innovations wherein we offer highly personalized levels of service.

We would also look to develop new partnerships with potential trade partners. And finally, create sufficient platforms to cultivate Malaysian stakeholders on the market’ needs while securing effective channels for their partnerships with trade and industry players in the market.

Lost World Of Tambun

Which key niches of Malaysia would you like to highlight?

We are pushing Beyond Kuala Lumpur for seasoned travellers. To cite a couple of examples, Sabah and Perak, which has a locational advantage are being promoted for nature, island and beach life, soft adventure activities, cool highlands and new theme parks. These places are easily accessible from the cities. Eco-tourism is another focus areas and it is noticed that in general, travellers from this market are looking for these experiences. However, it needs to be themed with high standards of luxurious services.

We are also raising awareness on the family unique experiences catering to each member of a family. This would range for all age groups who are visiting Malaysia for a holiday. We certainly do get a substantial number of repeat visitors. In a bid to further enhance this segment, we are aiming to keep travellers from this region engaged with constantly developed tourism products and exploring new experiences with every trip to Malaysia.

How do you see Tourism Malaysia work with the travel trade?

We will continue working closely with our trade partner more as equals in terms of promotions for this market. Trade partners are active in creating new packages that in turn increase their client’s satisfaction. We are constantly looking at opportunities and putting in all efforts to support trade partners while developing new packages and assist in delivering the message to the market.

What would be Tourism Malaysia’s target for 2017?

Our target for UAE is 29,000 for 2017. As of 13 August 2017, we have achieved 21,275 arrivals from UAE.

What would be your key areas of focus?

We focus would be to raise market awareness on the new cities in Malaysia. There are still much more experiences that travellers have not yet explored in Malaysia. Tourism Malaysia with stakeholders have created strong tourism products and with our travel trade partners, we will cultivate the market on such industry developments and communicate our marketing messages to those travellers.

We will also look at branding Malaysia as a unique family while also focusing on luxury and Halal destination for Arabs. New experiences will also be showcased in order to capitalize on current high demand of experiential tourism. The focus areas would be soft adventure, eco-tourism, golf, cycling, exotic honeymoon locales and filming opportunities.

Tourism Malaysia: Getting the number game right

M Nazri, minister of tourism and culture Malaysia

Tourism Malaysia has done their due diligence in terms of understanding travellers from the Middle East region. Our understanding of the market over the years points in one direction that there is a huge NRI market to be tapped in the Gulf. Of this market, the Indian community is very substantial. Taking tap into this big market, our Prime Minister on his recent visit to India announced a special e-visa arrangement for Indian nationals including NRIs. This multiple entry e-visa would be priced at just US$25 and will be valid for 30 days. This will also encourage many Indians who come to Malaysia and visit Singapore who is our neighbour to access Malaysia more easily.

Target segments

We are keen to target Indian tourists who are looking to have destination weddings. We also have some beautiful destinations for honeymoon couples. Finally, shopping is one of the biggest highlights and you get your money’s worth. As per the World Economy Forum, Malaysia is the third cheapest destination in the world in all aspects.

We would also like to invite and encourage production companies to visit Malaysia. We certainly offer a lot of incentives. Finally, with the UNWTO declaring 2017 as the ‘year of sustainable tourism’ works in our favour due to the varied eco-tourism offerings in Malaysia. We have the oldest rainforest in the world, mountains, the Proboscis monkey and so much more. There are also new eco-tourism destinations being highlighted such as Cameron Highlands and Sabah.

The Village Of Tambatuon, Kota Belud, Borneo, Sabah, Malaysia 

Experiential Tourism

Malaysia is keen to promote the concept of experiential tourism. We have a lot to offer today’s traveller who want to get a real feel of the destination. As a destination, we welcome tourists who want to live like locals and experience the culture. There are options such as living like a fisherman or a village folk or even just a normal Malaysian city life. We offer the home-stays options. Travellers can also savour the local cuisine which is such a variety in Malaysia due to the influence of the Chinese, Indian and Malay food options. To cite an example, in Penang, one can savour the experience of hawker food. We also promote the ‘Malaysia my second home’ programme encouraging people to invest in our country as retirement home or even consider investing and staying in the country. The incentives of this programme is that a buyer gets a 10-year multiple entry visa for not just themselves but their families too as long as they comply with the condition stated.

The Way Ahead

We are keen that companies come and invest in our country in hotels, resorts etc, wherein the government provides 100% equity. To provide an impetus to the tourism industry, we will be soon launching a tourism tax for all accommodation facilities in the country. We felt the need as tourism used to be dependent on allocation of budget given to the ministry.  In 2013-14, we had a big budget but from 2015 onwards, we have seen this budget dip with several cuts due to fall of the Ringgit (MYR) and reduction of cost of oil and gas. This dip in budget severely affected our promotions. We also evaluated that if this tax was implemented and runs smoothly, the country can collect approximately MYR 600 million a year. This is more than enough to do promotions or implement new infrastructure projects in tourism. This tax will be implemented for both locals and tourist alike. We will charge MYR 20 per night for five and four star hotels; the three star and below will be charged MYR 10 per night and this goes down to MYR 2.50 per night for unrated hotels. This will also include Airbnb and any other lodging facilities with two or more rooms.

Statistics

Total number of global tourists Malaysia received was 26.8 million in 2016. This is a four percent increase over 2015. However, more important is the tourism receipts. In 2015, it was MYR 72 billion; while in 2016, it was MYR 82 billion. The numbers for 2017 is MYR 103 billion in tourism receipts and 31.5 million tourist arrivals, which is attainable.

Malaysia Tourism has a target to reach 36 million tourist by 2020 and MYR 168 billion in tourism receipts which is achievable if we work towards it. There are many activities planned such as hopefully we will be country partner for ITB in 2019. This means that from 2018 onwards we will be working towards the 2020 ‘Visit Malaysia’ year to help achieve our target.

Tourism Overview

Year                       Tourist numbers              Tourism receipts

2015                       25.7 million                         MYR 72 billion

2016                       26.8 million                         MYR 82 billion

2017                       31.5 million                         MYR 103 billion

2020                       36 million (target)            MYR 168 billion (target)

Tourism Tax (once implemented)

Amount               Hotel Category

MYR 20                 Five and four star

MYR 10                 Three star and below

MYR 2.50             Unrated