visit malaysia year 2020

6 Ways to Draw More Tourists to Malaysia, According to Malaysians

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According to the PM, “the government is targeting to achieve 30 million international tourists and RM100 billion revenue in the tourism sector through the (Visit Malaysia Year 2020) campaign.”

As you and I know, we as a country have A LOT of debt to pay off (yes this is a 1MDB reference). So I am fully in support of the campaign and initiatives under it. It’s not your or my fault that we’re in this debt…  but we’re in this debt.

It sounds like the RoR audience is in support of initiatives that improve the tourism sector, too, because when I asked about what we could do to attract more tourists to Malaysia, I got so many amazing replies! They were so good, I decided to compile some answers here for everyone else to read and contemplate on.

Here’s what you say will draw tourists to Malaysia:

#1 – Appeal to locals (and people who live here like locals)

Muhammad Asyraf HamdaniAttract locals first, others come second.  If locals didn’t get entertain, how will it viral to others. 

Dylan LerEmpower locals to spark tourism entrepreneurship. Give small grants for people to paint their shops(have a mural/make it insta-worthy), decorate their small cities, clean the beaches, hold mini-tours, etc.

When you empower local people to love their cities and towns, they automatically promote them to others.

Ringgit Genie – Encourage more high skilled expatriate workers into the country for a more multicultural vibe. Their friends and family are likely to visit them in Malaysia while they are here which will definitely improve tourism.

#2 – Promote our lifestyle through popular culture

Edmundn Kdupg – I think it is important to take control of the narrative and branding of our culture and history. There has to be more effort to document and present our local food, local histories and local places in a variety of content such as drama, movies, podcasts, comics (and more).

For example, Japanese anime featuring Japanese food is jaw-dropping amazing and helps spread their culture. Same with Korean dramas that feature Korean food. I will definitely support any local anime about Malaysian food.”

Metalhead BillBuild soft power. If people care about your culture, people will come no matter what horrible things they have to say. For example,

  • America’s entertainment industry despite the gross economic inequality,
  • Kpop/Kdrama despite the monopolistic control of the economy through Chaebols and the horrible work life balance they have,
  • Japan’s entertainment industry and so on.

You get my drift.

Alden Lee Chung ZhennRide on Henry Golding’s (and needless to say Michelle Yeoh’s) Hollywood status. Collaborate and create local dramas with them featuring Malaysia’s beauty. Learn from Kdrama’s success.

Generally people don’t like forceful promotional contents like the Visit Malaysia 2020. Subliminal messages via mediums like local drama, food, music and etc gives more value in promoting Malaysia to the global audiences.

Charmaine Pua Li Ping Create better (influencer-driven) content like this to attract people. Use 3D tours to show people around or engage with famous local celebrities to show people where they hang out. Most importantly, proper maintenance of places of interest. 


#3 – Clean up – both image and public space

Ringgit Genie – Improve the perception about Malaysia in foreign media. Foreign media, portrays Malaysia as an ultra-conservative religious country with not much to do, which is definitely not the case. Don’t think the Visit Malaysia campaigns are good enough to change that perception among tourists right now.

Ryan Lee Chun HoeWith more tourist coming in, then I think it will start to push for other initiatives whether individually, government or society to make Malaysia cleaner, safer place to visit because they will realise tourism is also their rice bowl. The locals won’t want crime to happen to deter their “rice bowls” away.

Ming Wee KohTaking care of our streets and public toilets cleanliness and maintenance with less scribbling on walls and doors.

#4 – Create fun travel experiences

Kurtson WongEncourage more road trip for north/southbound! Make roadtrips exciting and bring tourist out of the heart of city!

Adiba Azhani – Improve public trains. I went to Japan & Singapore because their trains are convenient. So I managed to travel easily

Ming Wee KohProvide user & language friendly signboards for streets for easier understanding by all other countries with increase placement of signboards to ensure tourist finds their way at all times.

With an idea of our places of attraction, implementing signboards that leads to those place would be a great help to tourists. Public transport frequency and on time schedule to allow easier movement for tourists with easy reference such as multiple languages, app for tracking on public transport movements.

#5 – Market the Malaysian Food Experience

Joseph SoosayMarket the traditional Malaysian foods more effectively globally – I do think we have some of the best food from anywhere. 

Farhana Norlisan – For city, we have to show off our night life and street vendor culture as they are very vast! If we can make the surrounding clean and appealing, it’ll be superb!

Debra Wong – Food alternations for people with dietary restrictions such as vegan, gluten-free and keto who would like to try our nasi lemak, roti canai etc (Also: Looking for suggestions for halal, no-eggs no-dairy vegetarian food options to suit my UK boss in town plus my team!)

Edgar Lee – Promote the things that we are highly proud of: food, nature, and culture. turn malaysia into a food/nature/culture hub in southeast asia, with the right approach to advertising, even a mamak stall can become a hipster cafe.

#6 – Entertain the hell out of them

Josh LimConcerts, seriously concerts. We are skipped so often by big acts because we have a ‘backward country image’ that isn’t friendly towards live acts.

Ryan Lee Chun HoeRave party, music festival or get the license to do those famous theme parks here. 

Ringgit Genie – Host major music festivals and events in Malaysia.

Suraya’s note: I understand that most of the people reading this are not working as full-time big-scale event manager so you can’t really do anything about this lol. But still, even in our own individual capacity, we can treat the tourists we come across well, so that they themselves will tell their friends and family about their positive experience in Malaysia.

Last thoughts

How obvious was my attempt to make you support Visit Malaysia Year 2020? Haha.

But really though. My personal opinion is the government could really benefit from our help to make Visit Malaysia Year 2020 a successful one. I don’t know about you, but I would like it very much if Malaysia could pay off its outstanding debts without any problem. And one way to do that is by increasing country revenue.

So shall we… help? Even if all we can do are stuff in our personal capacity, like being nice to tourists and expats. Not just the white ones.

Ok, Imma quit sounding so preachy now. Feel free to give supportive or counter-arguments, would love the opportunity to learn. Laters.

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  1. The attitude towards foreigners must be right. If we adopt an inwardly conservative and selfish thoughts such as pride of privacy and not wanting intrusions into our lives or lifestyle, then the while sociatal attitude will reflect it from top leadership down. Example if kampong folks are unhappy with seeing strangers or feel suspicious of foreigners in their midst, then how can we welcome visitors or foreigners into our cities or towns?

    1. Nicely worded Fred. Even for me my biased actions are still hard to unlearn, imagine for others and their environment. Guess we can only improve ourselves and hopefully the actions will spread

  2. We must really step up and keep our public spaces clean. I’ve recently visited Chamang Waterfalls (just last week to be precise) – beautiful place but the rubbish was an eyesore (the smell was equally horrible)! Rubbish was found outside the bins. If the bins were full I’d understand but some were empty! We have beautiful and natural heritage. If we can’t take care of them how la can we invite people over?

    1. You made a great point. Frankly I don’t know what went wrong with us. Its sad. The only think we can do is lead by example I guess – we clean ourselves

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