In January, Tourism Malaysia participated in the AVIAREPS Southeast Asia Virtual Roadshow; a virtual tourism exhibition held exclusively online over two days. The event was the first of its kind to be presented in a fully 3D interactive online space, allowing both sellers and buyers to interact in real-time. Tourism Malaysia joined a group of 33 sellers at the exhibition, where businesses showcased their products, destinations and services to over 500 leading outbound agencies in the ASEAN trading bloc of Southeast Asia.
A key feature of the event was online business-to-business (B2B) matchmaking appointments, which recreated a key element of more traditional, bricks-and-mortar travel trade shows. Through digital chat rooms, sellers and buyers were able to connect and collaborate around shared interests. The event allowed many businesses to maintain existing ties, while also establishing new connections.
“Through this virtual business platform, it is hoped that we can learn, connect and address issues as part of the recovery efforts to improve our tourism industry,” explained Zulkifly Bin Md Said, who is the Director General of Tourism Malaysia. “In the long run, we hope to achieve our goal in making Malaysia the preferred holiday destination once again,” he added.
With infrastructure designed to mimic online gaming forums and the latest interactive VR technology, participants at the event used a customised individual avatar. This allowed attendees to attend ‘in person’, thereby circumnavigating the border controls and restrictions imposed on the real world by the pandemic. The event offers a glimpse of the future for tourism promotion; many travel trade shows that were previously hosted in person are expected to adopt online alternatives as a safer and more reliable option, which would also be less vulnerable to cancellation due to the Covid-19 situation.
Tourism Malaysia accounted for a total of four booths at the exhibition; comprising Destination Management Companies (DMCs), hoteliers and theme parks, a total of 16 organizations were represented under the Tourism Malaysia umbrella. Several state tourism offices were also in attendance, representing Sarawak and Penang at the event. The Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board, which is more commonly known as Tourism Malaysia, is an official agency under the Ministry of Tourism, Arts & Culture Malaysia. It focuses on promoting Malaysia as a preferred tourism destination to regional and international travellers.