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New Malaysia Truly Asia Campaign to be Announced

2021 New Malaysia Truly Asia Campaign

A new Visit Malaysia Truly Asia campaign will replace the recently canceled Visit Malaysia Year 2020 and this was officially announced by the Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri on March 18, 2020.

The reason for the Visit Malaysia 2020 cancelation was due to the Coronavirus or Covid-19 pandemic that swept Malaysia and the world in a matter of weeks.

New Malaysia Truly Asia Campaign

With some major setbacks occurring in the tourism industry in Malaysia and around the world, this will be a mammoth task for Tourism Malaysia to undertake.

But before anything can happen, we still need to see if the Covid-19 curve has been flattened and as to date, it has not.

What is even more alarming is that cases are rising fast despite the Movement Control Order the government imposed from 18th to 31st March.

And just when writing this article on the 25th March, our Prime Minister announces on live TV this afternoon that the MCO has been extended another two weeks to April 14th, 2020. 

In total, Malaysia will observe a total of 28 days for the Movement Control Order and this is surely going to affect the country and also the tourism industry really bad.

In times like this, the announcement of a new Malaysia Truly Asia campaign sheds a light and gives hope to many in the tourism industry.

And this goes all the way from the airlines, agents, hotels, guides to even shops and other businesses. where everyone gets a piece of the tourism Ringgit.

2021 Visit Malaysia Truly Asia
An empty Batu Caves in early March of 2020.
How has Covid-19 Impacted Tourism in Malaysia? 

Let's take a look at our tourism industry in Malaysia and what has happened to date. And below is my personal opinion on what is happening to the industry players. 

Also, some of the outgoing links put here may or may not be active as due to the pandemic reporting, even mainstream news has been facing issues, where reporters are publishing articles and then removing them. 

Airlines in Malaysia

Local airlines have been hit so hard that many of them have grounded aircraft, canceled flights and even laid off staff or imposed voluntary unpaid leave.

Don't forget that not only general consumers use these airlines to travel for both leisure or business, but even tour companies also rely on these airlines for their customers coming into Malaysia and so on. 

In the news, Malaysia Airlines had asked 13,000 employees to take unpaid leave, but there was confusion in that article. 

In actual, Malaysia Aviation Group has given its staff the option to voluntarily take five days of unpaid leave per month for at least three months, or between one to three months beginning April.

AirAsia Suspends Domestic International Flights Coronavirus
AirAsia issued a flight suspension throughout its fleet on 26th March, 2020.
Another NST article published on the 25th March highlighted that Malaysia Airlines is on the brink of bankruptcy if they do not get any sort of financial aid during this time. 

According to the Aliran news portal, Malaysia Airlines has seen 63% of flights canceled while AirAsia and Malindo Air are up to 70% on canceled flights.

During these troubled times, AirAsia has come up with a Covid-19 Flight Change website where travelers can get more information about their flights and other issues faced.

It looks like a massive bailout will be required to get things back on track, and we will have to see what happens in the next few weeks to come.

Tour Operators

Probably one of the hardest to be hit from the Covid-19 pandemic are the tour operators in Malaysia. Both inbound and outbound have suffered massive losses from this.

Once things get better, the first markets that most of the inbound operators will target is the PRC market, as it has been announced that China is now opening up restrictions for its citizens. 

However, it all depends on how fast Malaysia flattens the curve or controls the pandemic. It could be sooner than expected, but in reality, it will take at least three to six months or even longer.

Since most tour agents are members of MATTA or Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents, and agents have been paying for the annual membership, perhaps they could assist in a unique way? 

And not by just having press conferences asking the government to do this and that or support and welcome what the PM says.

Visit Malaysia 2021
Kuala Lumpur City Centre at night. This photo was taken in early March 2020.
Hotels and Resorts

With Malaysia stopping incoming visitors, the hotel and resort industry is facing some serious losses and even before the MCO was applied, many hotels were already going downhill with 20% to 30% occupancy.

Don't forget that hotels not only depend on room nights, but they also depend on business events, weddings, and meetings. 

With Ramadan and Hari Raya around the corner, a lot of hotels usually gear up for the 'Buka Puasa' or Breaking of Fast promotions at their hotel restaurants.

But for now, we can not predict what will happen in the next two to three weeks, and it is a huge gamble for the hoteliers. They can only wait and see what happens next.

Tourism Destinations

The MCO had shuttered all tourism destinations and products for two weeks and this included national parks, forest reserves, museums, theme parks, and just about anything related to tourism.

Even minor and major events and festivals around Malaysia has been either canceled or postponed due to the Coronavirus issues.

One of the biggest events is the Rainforest World Music Festival 2020 which has been postponed by the Sarawak Government.

Since writing this, the MCO shutdown will now extend for another two weeks making it a total of 4 weeks of shutting from 18th March to 14th April.

Cruise Tourism

With the worldwide news of cruises being affected terribly with Covid-19 cases, many are skeptical about cruises in the future, but it could change after the pandemic.

Malaysia Tour Guide Covid 19
A local tour guide leading a group in the rainforest.
Tour Guides

Almost all tour guides have been without jobs since the MCO and this is their daily income. Of course, this comes along with the tour bus and van drivers, the dive instructors, divemasters and the whole chain.

Each state tourism board can possibly help out, but if you want to help, you need to help a lot of people. However, I still think MATTA should be doing their part in helping out in this situation.

Tourism Boards

All tourism boards have adhered to the MCO and key staff is to work from home unless it is a critical issue and they have to attend office meetings.

Probably the most challenging in re-marketing Malaysia is the tourism board's marketing department, and with the MCO ongoing, I don't even want to think about how this will be done.

Don't forget that there is the main Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (Motac) and also the individual state tourism boards and the council tourism departments.

And each one has very different objectives in terms of tourism arrivals from which country or which product they want to market. Often, this can be quite tricky in terms of seeing eye to eye. 

Tourism Malaysia will market on a general overall directive for Malaysia as a whole, while other states will focus on their individual strength and countries.

Inbound Tourism 

If Malaysia continues with the uptrend in Covid-19 cases and takes a long time to rectify the issue, tourists will not want to visit Malaysia. It is simple and straight forward. 

The most likely scenario would be to promote local tourism to Malaysians for a start before actually reaching out to other countries to visit Malaysia, and all of this takes time.

I also wrote an article about a tourism lockdown in Malaysia on March 18th, which was targeted towards tourists. 

Outbound Tourism

This is quite tricky as the minute any travel restrictions are lifted, there will be those who will quickly try to take advantage of low airfares and start traveling abroad without thinking twice.

A Possible Solution to the Tourism Industry - Bailout

It looks like the only possible solution is that the federal government will have to step in to bail out most or all of the tourism-related industries in order to see each and everyone gets back on their feet.

How they do this is another matter, but knowing the industry, it will be done in a very interesting way. And no, they are not going to just give everyone a stack of cash. 

There is no doubt this is being discussed by the tourism ministry as the Malaysian tourism industry needs all the help it can get.

For now, it is also wise to sit back, stay home, be safe and not complain about what the ministry is doing. The article below clearly shows that the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture is actually doing something.

Press Release of the New Malaysia Truly Asia Campaign 

Tourism Malaysia Minister Nancy Shukri
Malaysia's Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri. Photo from Facebook.
This article appeared in a news release on March 25, 2020.

The Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (Motac) will introduce a new campaign to replace the Visit Malaysia 2020 (VM2020) campaign which was canceled following the spread of Covid-19. 
Capitalizing on the ‘Malaysia, Truly Asia’ brand, Minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri said the campaign would run in the long-term while highlighting the country’s unique experiences. 
“Motac is confident that this effort will strengthen the country’s competitiveness and sustainability in tourism while ensuring the industry is inclusive,” she said in a statement today. 
On March 18, Nancy announced the immediate cancellation of VM2020 to prevent the spread of Covid-19, in addition to the impact of the outbreak which had affected the local and international tourism sector. 
Following the Covid-19 outbreak, Nancy said tourism industry players such as hoteliers, travel agents as well as food and beverage businesses suffered an estimated loss of RM9 billion in the first quarter of the year. 
As such, she said, after discussing with the industry players on March 17, it was decided that a strategic action plan should be introduced. 
“Motac has put in place an action plan to help revitalize the industry and ensure the well-being of Malaysians whose livelihoods depend on this industry. 
“Among those present were representatives of the associations from the hotel and tourism industry, bus operators, traders, tour guides and taxi drivers. The meeting was organized by the Tourism Recovery Action Council (TRAC),” she added. 
Nancy said Motac would discuss with the Ministry of Finance and related agencies, in looking into details tabled by the tourism industry players especially on the forms of assistance that could be channeled to the industry. 

Please note the above only indicated the plans for a new Malaysia Truly Asia campaign and is not the answer to what the next campaign will be or when it will be.

On how they are going to help each relevant sector is another story, which we need to wait for their action plan to come out, therefore do not make assumptions for now. 

Visit Malaysia Year 2021
I speculate it will be called Visit Malaysia 2021.

From the above, it shows that Tourism Malaysia is not enjoying the MCO but working around the clock to fix this major issue.

From what I gather, Tourism Malaysia will most likely create a Visit Malaysia 2021 to follow through from this year's cancellation.

The ministry will most likely put a focus on local travel campaigns like Cuti Cuti Malaysia promoting the local destinations around the country.

Until the official news comes out, we can wait patiently on the announcement of what the new Malaysia Truly Asia campaign will be.

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