By Farah Hida Sharin

Recently, in order to gain input for my current research paper on sustainable rural tourism, I read and analysed the National Tourism Policy 2020-2030 produced by the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture in 2020. Surprisingly, it demonstrates that our tourism sector was ‘sick’ even before the Pandemic Covid -19.

As summarised in the policy, there are indications that Malaysia’s tourism industry has seen a real or perceived decline in service quality in comparison to its ASEAN neighbours. Existing tourism products are becoming ‘weary’ and unattractive as a result of a lack of creativity and innovation caused by excessive reliance on the government and a silo mentality.

In response, the government created a tourism transformation blueprint based on three key pillars: sustainability, competitiveness, and inclusiveness, to strengthen Malaysia’s tourism industry. Six strategies have been established to achieve transformation.

Of course, I can’t go into detail about all of the strategies, but one, in particular, piques my interest: transforming Malaysia’s tourism industry into Smart Tourism. Several actions are required to implement this strategy, including tourism players optimising e-marketing usage by the increasing synergy between government and tourism industry players, innovating in the informal tourism sector and rural tourism, leveraging big data analytics to support data-driven decision making and future planning, and, finally, increasing the visitor economy in rural areas through digitourism.

Whether or not the COVID-19 pandemic has ended, the show must go on. Let us support our local tourism industry to help our national economy recover.

Source / Reference

National Tourism Policy 2020 – 2030, Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Malaysia (2020)