Malaysia pursues holistic strategy to boost Chinese tourist arrivals

This photo taken on March 23, 2024 shows the Petronas Twin Towers before the Earth Hour event in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (Photo by Chong Voon Chung/Xinhua)

KUALA LUMPUR, April 12 (Xinhua) — Malaysia is adopting a holistic approach to boost Chinese tourist arrivals, moving beyond traditional promotional methods to create an ecosystem that enhances visitors’ experience.

The approach includes deploying Chinese-proficient staff at key entry points, collaborating with airlines to offer direct flights from secondary and tertiary Chinese cities, partnering with educational institutions, and utilizing Chinese social media influencers, Tourism Malaysia Director-General Manoharan Periasamy told Xinhua in a recent exclusive interview.

“We have local airlines operating out of China, and we’re also working with Chinese-based carriers like Loong Air, China Eastern, and China Southern,” he said, adding that his agency, which is under the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry, coordinates with these airlines to ensure a seamless arrival experience for tourists.

Help desks staffed with Chinese-speaking officers have been established to assist tourists with digital documents and entry procedures, providing a welcoming and efficient arrival experience, Manoharan said.

Malaysia’s unique attractions, including pristine beaches, diverse eco-tourism options, and a vibrant culinary and shopping scene, are already well-known in China. Besides these, Manoharan emphasized the added advantage of Malaysia’s large ethnic Chinese population.

Chinese nationals can easily fit in and feel at home when they visit, further enhancing Malaysia’s appeal, he said.

Homestay programs are being promoted to offer visitors an immersive cultural experience. “It’s a totally different kind of experience to stay with a local family, understand their way of life, and share a meal with them,” Manoharan explained.

These programs are being linked to education initiatives, with the families of Chinese students in Malaysia invited to visit and experience the Southeast Asian country firsthand.

Finally, Manoharan said his agency has partnered with social media influencers in China to showcase Malaysia’s attractions.

Many influencers have already been brought to Malaysia on trips to give them a first-hand experience, Manoharan said.

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