ITB Asia: Tourism Malaysia to Concentrate on Niche Marketing

Senior Editor Mark Rogers is reporting from ITB Asia in Singapore. After giving his first impressions of The St. Regis Singapore, he reports on the latest tourism highlights to come from Malaysia representatives.

chong yoke har

Chong Yoke Har addresses the crowd at ITB Asia

During first ever ITB Asia in Singapore, Tourism Malaysia laid out its marketing plans for the upcoming year.

“We’ll be focusing on niche products, including MICE, medical tourism and eco-tourism and homestay,” says Chong Yoke Har, director for international marketing division for Southeast Asia, North Asia & East Asia for Tourism Malaysia. “By selling these niche products, we’re building on our strengths.”

Look for Malaysia to also highlight the cities of Malacca and Penang— both received UNESCO World Heritage status this year. Malaysia will also turn the heat up under its dual destination packages, especially those pairing the destination with Singapore. “We’re working with other airlines besides Malaysia Airlines, such as Singapore Airlines,” says Chong Yoke Har. “This provides us with even greater air access for our visitors.”

Chong Yoke Har notes that 2008 has been a challenging year. The country saw solid growth of 4.4 percent up until September and then it hit the skids, with September showing a dip of minus 0.1 percent. While growth from the U.S. was an impressive 17.8 percent, the U.S. is not even in the top 10 of generating markets for Malaysia. In response to my question about how Malaysia intends to market itself to the U.S., Chong Yoke Har replied that they will concentrate on Internet marketing.

Malaysia is focusing its marketing in Europe on the Sabah and Sarawak regions of the country, and I expect we’ll see these areas also promoted in the U.S., since in my opinion these areas have the greatest ability to attract long haul travelers from the U.S. in search of cultural and ecotourism experiences.