Annette J Wood, head of creative & marketing, Apxara Travel & Events

What tourism challenges is Malaysia currently facing?
Coming from a business events background, we face challenges organising events with a wow factor, especially in the Klang Valley.

The area is in dire need of good event spaces that provide sufficient facilities without breaking the bank. Due to certain regulations, there are still many government-maintained venues such as public parks that do not allow alcohol to be served. This limits event spaces to within the four walls of hotel ballrooms and restaurants.

Malaysia is fortunate to be home to rich, diverse cultures as well as influences from the colonial past such as Portuguese, Dutch and British. However, not enough is done to preserve our history. Colonial buildings and architecture have been lost in the midst of development and those still in existence are not being used for their potential.

This is sad because travellers want to see and experience Malaysia for what it really is. I feel the tourism products available do not represent our true culture and history.

If I had my way to improve things, I would… educate the relevant authorities on the importance of attracting business events tourists to Malaysia, the need for flexibility in allowing alcohol consumption, and creating event spaces that are unique to Malaysia.

I would also like to encourage the development of a new wave of tour guiding courses to bring fresh talent and ideas, and change the way we show our guests around.

I would like to see tour guiding courses introduced into the educational curriculum or as subjects in secondary schools, allowing the younger generation to showcase Malaysia from their perspective.
I would also give people the opportunity to participate in walking tours and cycling tours conducted by different generations of Malaysians who have differing travel experiences. I would like to encourage our people to become Malaysia’s ambassadors and engage them to conduct immersive travel experiences that allow guests to experience life as a Malaysian.

I would also like to see an improvement on the upkeep and maintenance of our existing tourism facilities and products.

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