Tourism Malaysia has promised to make “a lot more noise” about the destination as it pushes its eco-tourism and arts and culture offerings in an ambitious Visit Malaysia 2020 campaign.
The landmark initiative has received the support of the government and private sector, and forms a key part of the Malaysia Tourism Transformation Plan goals that by the year 2020, Malaysia will welcome a total of 30 million tourists and register RM100 billion in tourist receipts.
The board’s director general Musa Yusof called on the trade to help push the destination to the European market by honing in on eco-tourism and arts and culture – sectors the tourist board is working to boost with the help of the Ministry of Culture, Arts and Tourism.
“Malaysia has always been a country with a number of unique selling propositions, depending on the market segment,” he said.
“But within Europe we are promoting the arts and culture of our country, the people of our country and eco-tourism.
“More than 50% of Malaysia is still covered in rainforest, especially the island of Borneo, and we were also one of the first countries in south east Asia to promote community-based tourism.”
Increasing the livelihood of rural people in Malaysia through tourist homestays has been an objective since 1990, Yusof said, and today feeds into current travel trends for sustainability and experiential tourism.
“We are not selling accommodation, we are selling an experience – [tourists] come in, they stay with the people, wear the same dress, go to the plantation together with the villagers, eat the same food, sing, dance and cook together at night.
“The participating regions manage to increase their income by up to RM2 million a year.”
Tourism Malaysia said the destination had performed well in 2019, with the number of tourist arrivals increasing by 4.9% to 13.35 million in the first six months of this year – up from 12.73 million in 2018.
Since launching the Visit Malaysia 2020 campaign in August, Yusof said the destination had also witnessed a 4.8% spike in tourism each month.
The tourist board plans to offer another ‘mega-fam’ for 30 agents next year, as well as a trip for 12 agents with Singapore Airlines.