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Malaysia takes ‘Hari Raya’ route to draw inbound visitors

With bilateral trade target set for 2020 already achieved between Malaysia and India, tourism exchange between both these countries are bound to flourish. Replying to a question over the bilateral trade, Dato’ Seri Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia, said that there was a little drop because of Indian elections. “I am confident that the bilateral trade will increase after the conclusion of the recent election. In 2018, total trade with India amounted to US$15.56 billion, an increase of 2.2 per cent as compared to US$14.29 billion in 2017. This is already a positive development as we have already achieved our target of bilateral trade of US$15 billion by 2020 under the Malaysia-India Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement. We would like to encourage more investment from India in order to increase our bilateral trade. Last time I met Mr. Modi before the election, he mentioned that he wants to increase the business with Malaysia,” the Deputy Prime Minister told T3 on the sidelines of Malaysia Open House: Hari Raya Aidil Fitri event, organised by the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture and Ministry of Federal Territories, at the Royal Museum. “Let this land of sunshine and friendly hospitality capture your hearts and create great memories,” Ismail said.

The event saw the gracious presence of Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Datuk Mohamaddin Ketapi and Minister of Federal Territories, Tuan Khalid Abdul Samad apart from international media, officials and executives of Tourism Malaysia and Government of Malaysia and local dignitaries and citizens. Hari Raya Aidilfitri is the day that marks the end of Ramadan.

Tourism Malaysia has recently organised a mega familiarisation trip for international media to give a first-hand experience of the “merewang” tradition that typically sees communities working together hand-in-hand in preparation of a big event such as weddings and in this case, Hari Raya Aidilfitri. This year, the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Malaysia (MOTAC) invited 29 journalists from 13 countries to market and promote Hari Raya Aidilfitri, a 30 day celebrations where there is an open kitchen and food for all participants. It was started in 2001 and MOTAC has taken initiative to bring together all races into one platform to organise and celebrate the main festivities such as Christmas, Chinese New Year, Hari Raya, Deepavali and Tandu Kaamtan.

Delivering the inaugural address to all participants of the mega fam at hotel PARKROYAL Kuala Lumpur, Zulkifly Bin Md. Said, Deputy Director General (Planning), Tourism Malaysia said that this mega fam programme is an initiative to bring travel writers, travel  journalists, TV crew, key influencers and social media influencers to Malaysia to experience what it’s like to celebrate Hari Raya Aidil Fitri in the traditional Malaysian-style of “open house” and offer them the experiences that Malaysia has to offer in terms of tourism places and attractions. “This programme began way back in 2001. Last year, a total of 80 guests were brought in from 10 different countries and the publicity generated was RM 3.7 million from the various articles, documentaries and social media. From 2000 to 2018, we have brought in a total of 15,618 different media and publicity generated was around RM 1.28 billion,” Said added.

Speaking further, Said informed that Malaysia recorded a very marginal deficit in international tourist arrivals at 25.8 million in 2018 compared to 25.9 million in 2017. “Despite, a marginal decline, we recorded a growth in tourists spend. The first three months of this year, we recorded a growth of 2.7 per cent in arrivals brining a total of 6.6 million tourists. The tourism expenditure recorded a 16.9 per cent growth to RM 21.4 billion. The average length of stay also went up by one night to six nights,” Said said and added that Malaysia is a multicultural and multiracial destination with more than 1023 ethnic groups.

He informed that Tourism Malaysia has set a target of 30 million tourist arrivals and RM 100 billion Ringgit in tourism receipts for the ‘Visit Malaysia Year 2020’ campaign. “For 2019, we have the target of welcoming 28.1 million tourists and RM 92.2 billion in tourism receipts. Along with the federal government, we have 10 states and three federal territories and some of the states will organise their own Visit Malaysia Year campaign 2020. We are working hand in hand with some of the states,” Said said and added that Tourism Malaysia is on course to create more experiential tourism products like Desaru Coast, sea-life in Legoland, Sky Mirror in Selangor etcetra. He explained that Tourism Malaysia is leveraging on its strong presence in social media which has 3.3 million followers on Facebook, 73,000 followers on Instagram, 422,489 followers on Twitter and 45.6 million views on YouTube. The session also highlighted the latest updates on the Visit Malaysia 2020 campaign and the developments of Desaru Coast in Johor, Encore Melaka and future plans of the Malaysia Airlines.

Talking about India market on the sidelines of the event, Tourism Minister Ketapi said that tourism ties between Malaysia and India are getting stronger. “Every year, we are getting a lot of tourists from India. India and Malaysia are good friends. Apart from this, connectivity is the main point. We have the good connectivity between two countries but we will be adding more. We will be getting more tourists movements between the two countries with a better connectivity. I think it’s a very good piece of cooperation between two countries,” Ketapi said while replying to a question about Indian arrivals.

When asked that the kind of focus of Tourism Malaysia on India market in terms of marketing and promotions has slightly gone down in the last couple of years, he replied that Tourism Malaysia will be accelerating its promotional efforts for India. “Actually, we will be doing our marketing more than it was used to be. We will be looking at India market in terms of what we need to do more and we will do this to improve the market for the people of India to know more about Malaysia. We are going to India market for promotion but of course everything will be done. We will be making our roadshow in India to promote Malaysia. Secondly, we have been attending SATTE in India. We will do the roadshow which will be quite effective for India market,” Ketapi said and added that both India and China markets are very close at the moment. “For me, between China and India, they are almost the same. A lot of Chinese and Indians are coming here. For Malaysia, both India and China are very big and important markets for us,” he said.

Talking about the strengthening connectivity between India and China, the Tourism Minister said: “In fact, I have directed my officials to get more charter flights even from India. Apart from IndiGo, we will be getting more charter flights from India to Malaysia as it is quite low as of now. We will have discussion with airlines in India so that both sides will be getting more traffic,” he said highlighting that tourism industry of Malaysia is developing new tourism products and it will be offered to India market.

Mohamad Taib Ibrahim, Senior Deputy Director, International Promotion Division, Asia/Africa, Tourism Malaysia also talked to media about India market. Replying to a question over how closely Tourism Malaysia works with Malaysia Airlines, Ibrahim said : “We are closely working with Malaysia Airlines. We have formed a committee with Malaysia Airlines two months ago and had held a series of discussions.  We are looking at joint promotion and tactical campaign with Malaysia Airlines. One of the things we are doing with them is planning a three city rodashow in India. We have three offices in India that work closely with Malaysia Airlines. Our collaboration with MH is very important and we support each other,” Taib added.

Replying to a question over introducing new tourism products in India market apart from Kuala Lumpur, Genting, Penang and Langkawi, Ibrahim said that Tourism Malaysia is now introducing new products in India market. “India has been patronising KL, Genting, Penang and Langkawi. We are now promoting Desaru and Ipoh. Ipoh is now receiving Indian groups. We know that Genting has been very popular in India and recently noticed that Indian footfall is slightly less. Hence, we decided to promote Cameron Highland which works as an alternative to Genting Highland. So, we are offering alternative to Genting to the India market. In Genting Highlands, we are developing 20th Century Fox World, an upcoming movie inspired theme park project. The park was supposed to open in July but it got delayed due to legal issues. So, we opened Ipoh and Cameroon Highland for India,” he said and added that we also work closely with wedding planners in India. “And, we want to introduce a new destination for Indian wedding and one of the new destinations we introduced is Port Dickson,  which is an hour drive from KL International airport. When Indians come for wedding, they like to go to Sunway Lagoon Theme Park. We also introduced Sabah as a wedding destination and we again want to launch Sabah in India market,” he said.

Tourism Malaysia has set a target of 30 million international tourists by 2020. “The highest figure from India was in 2014 which was 785,000. Our target for 2020 is 728,000 for 2020. The connectivity between two countries is also growing. We understand that IndiGo wants to fly from Kochi. Malaysia Airlines recently started its service between Kochi and Kuala Lumpur. Vistara has got the right to fly on Mumbai- Kuala Lumpur route. We have now Varanasi coming in terms of connectivity. Our target for South Asia for 2020 is 1.06 million,” Ibrahim informed and added that Tourism Malaysia is now promoting its tourism products in India Tier II & III cities apart from the established metros.

Malaysia Airlines, Turkish Airlines and PARKROYAL Kuala Lumpur were supporting partner for the Malaysia Mega Familiarisation Programme. 

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