THE Visit Malaysia 2020 (VM2020) campaign is being actively promoted overseas than in Malaysia as its main objective is to attract more foreign tourists into the country next year.
According to the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA), its members are pushing the campaign outside of Malaysia, having recently returned from a trip to India, comprising four major cities.
The association's deputy president Mohd Akil Mohd Yusof said the group is participating in joint marketing and roadshows there.
"We want to Chennai, Madurai, Coimbator e and Kochi to promote VM2020 with Tourism Malaysia, and our members are gearing up for all the special programmes that we can have which will be put forward to markets in Europe when we exhibit in World Travel Market," he told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) recently.
Mohd Akil said this when asked to comment on the preparations for VM2020 campaign, which has been perceived to be slow, although the campaign was launched last July.
According to him, the World Travel Market is an international event that is based in the UK for the global travel industry, to begin on Nov 4 to 6.
He said some of the associations are currently focusing on contacting their international markets, including the US, Japan, Korea, Australia and the Middle East. "They have already sent these programmes to our agents who are supporting the campaign overseas, so they can start promoting and selling Malaysia beginning from this year, whereby ou r tourist receipts have increased, which means the interest is also on the rise," he said.
He added that the splash over for the campaign will be high, while the association and its members has to keep introducing new products and initiatives to further push the tourist receipt count. "Though we still prefer that the departure levy not be introduced durin g this campaign, it is still too early to say what the effects may be.
"The one good thing about the levy is that there will be a difference for those coming from within the region and outside. To some extent, people from within the region may not be affected by it, and they make up most of our market," he said.
On the other hand, Mohd Akil said there are doubts surrounding the levy in regard to the confirmation of its implementation. "Some rumours say it's not going to happen because of VM2020 campaign, which can be a concern for some of us.
"If we sell to Europe, we sell ahead of time with the pre-levy prices, and having said that, those who consider the flight prices on top of the potential departure levy may not feel the impact as much," he said.
Meanwhile , Malaysian Tourist Guides Council president Jimmy Leong said the government should not only promote, market and sell the "Truly Asia" branding, but more importantly should fulfil the promises made.
"Our 'Truly Asia' branding must be able to deliver true Asia experiences and the correct business model concept must be in place.
"Targeted focus promotion and marketing for foreign countries should be the formulated direction towards effectiveness in attracting tourists to our shore," he told TMR recently.
He added that every effort by Tourism Malaysia must be appreciated as every initiation done professionally and consistently will sure bear yield.
As the government promises, tour operators will sell the promises, and we as tourist guides will deliver the promises," he told TMR recently.
For the VM2020, the government announced RM1.1 billion allocation to the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC), of which RM90 million had been allocated for tourism promotions to empower Motac to step up enforcement and continue providing incentives, including the matching grant under Galakan Melancong Malaysia (Gamelan Malaysia 2019).
MATTA president Datuk Tan Kok Liang said the association is elated that the Budget 2020 contains incentives for the tourism industry. "We are delighted with the accelerated capital allowance for the purchase of completely knocked-down tour vehicles for two years and 50% reduction of excise duty for locally assembled vehicles.
"This will allow operators a great window of opportunity to replace their ageing vehicles at a much reduced cost. Modernising their fleet will provide greater comfort to tourists during VM2020 and enhance the image of the country," he said in a statement.
Tan said MATTA had also long been advocating for a policy that is more welcoming for foreign tourists, namely the new mechanism on e-Visa that will be introduced to facilitate arrivals. "We are happy with the
measures and incentives, including those for theme parks that were announced in Budget 2020.
"With this incentive of the exemption for statutory income for investment in theme parks, it should be a strong encouragement for the establishment of more theme parks, which will boost tourism in the various states," he said.