Tourism operators in Malaysia are sharing initiatives to keep their businesses afloat during the on-going CMCO, while also strategizing for a return to normal operations after restrictions have been lifted. Various industry representatives are combining online promotion, package revision and a focus on domestic tourism in the interim, in an effort to keep things ticking over.
The sector was hard-hit by cancellations and postponements when the MCO was announced in Malaysia several months ago, causing hardships that continue to be felt around the industry. Many operators are wary of reopening for business too soon, and are erring on the side of caution when it comes to large-scale international product promotion or sales.
“Although the government allowed us to operate during the CMCO period, we can’t plan any trip for clients until next year,” says Heritage G Tour director Gokilan Sathasivam.”We do not want to repeat the same oversight we did when the MCO was announced, which forced us to fix the changes and get refunds, especially for transportation and flights,” he continued.
Sathasivam added that his team are currently retooling their marketing plan for next year, adapting packages and payment options to fit the new conditions. “This year is all about sustaining the industry,” he said. One method by which Sathasivam and other industry professionals are achieving that aim is a series of online forums, geared towards sharing best practice with travel industry players from around the world.
Held nightly, the series of talks brings together more than 30 participants from at least 10 countries worldwide. Among topics discussed are how to use social media influencers and YouTube to promote destinations, as well as how to monetise operations through online platforms. “The tourism series gives us ideas on the industry around the world as well as information and motivation on travel in the future,” says Sathasivam.
Several other Malaysian industry professionals are turning away from traditional ‘bricks and mortar’ sales and marketing, increasingly using online platforms and social media channels to promote their products. Ping Anchorage Travel and Tours is combining online promotions of heritage-themed packages with local partnerships and promotions for domestic tourism, as the sector continues its wait for the return of international visitors.
The Kuala Terengganu-based agency is collaborating with hotels and resorts to offer post-pandemic promotions that focus on traditional Malaysian handicrafts and cultural attractions, such as woodworking and batik-making classes. Chief executive officer Alex Lee Yun Ping says the firm is venturing into promoting its products through YouTube to tap the local market.
Malaysia’s tourism industry leaders are in agreement that a revival of the sector will take time. As the wait for a lifting of restrictions continues, many are making their own alternative plans; seeking out new revenue streams, modernising promotions and switching their focus to the domestic market until international visitors return.