GEORGE TOWN: Specially tailored experiential packages will be offered by local tour operators to woo international tourists, amid stiff competition from neighbouring countries.
The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) honorary treasurer and spokesman Nigel Wong said these packages were being developed as travellers these days are on the lookout for unique experiences.
“They no longer just want to click pictures in traditional tourism spots.
“They want to immerse themselves in activities in the city or at a particular place, especially those places that have a connection with its history, people and culture,” Wong said.
The country is expected to see an influx of tourists when its international borders reopen on April 1.
Wong said that Malaysia has always been a preferred tourism destination even during the Covid-19 pandemic, citing the big success of the Langkawi travel bubble as an example.
“We have our usual attractions for eco-tourism, which has always been popular.
“There is also the shift in travel trends right now that shows that people want to visit less crowded and cleaner destinations,” he said.
Wong said neighbouring countries would be considered friendly competitors as they would want to recapture the market share as well.
“As a brand, we are still on the people’s minds but we have to remember that many international tourist destinations will reopen their doors as well.
“We have some brand leverage but we must make sure we keep things fresh and offer more.
“It is also about how friendly we are to foreigners as a country post Covid-19, in terms of simple and clear standard operating procedures as well as avoiding major shifts in policies,” he said.
Meanwhile, Kenny Lean, who runs a travel and tour agency, said he was still taking a “wait-and-see approach”.
“I am still unsure of the procedures involved.
“If it is not too cumbersome, I will definitely start offering tours and trips,” said Lean.
Meanwhile, Penang Tourist Guides Association president Chin Poh Chin said by opening the borders to international tourists, the Malaysian authorities must make sure that standard operating procedures are in place to ensure the safety of travellers.
“Having small groups of travellers and offering responsible tourism will make a difference,” she said, adding that the state government should ramp up its promotional efforts to encourage visitors to travel here.