Selangor plays up natural and cultural attractions to draw more European visitors

Aerial view of paddy field at Sekinchan, Malaysia.

To capture a larger slice of the European market, Tourism Selangor is intensifying efforts to promote the abundance of offerings in the Malaysian state.

Abdul Rashid Asari, Selangor state government chairman of standing committees for cultural and tourism, Malay tradition and heritage, believes that a new crop of hotels, infrastructure, ecotourism and cultural attractions will put the destination in good stead to attract the European market.

Aerial view of Sekinchan paddy fields

He said: “We have a lot to offer in the city that will appeal to the taste of the Europeans.”

Key attractions include the Selangor Fruits Valley, Sekinchan paddy fields, Sky Mirror in Kuala Selangor and Sunway Lagoon – the oldest and largest theme park in Selangor, according to Abdul Rashid.

Having received some 300,000 tourists from Europe in 2018, Abdul Rashid hopes to grow the market by at least 10 to 20 per cent this year.

To raise awareness of the destination, he said Tourism Selangor has beefed up its online presence through social media channels, and will be participating in more events and tradeshows this year.

European buyers at ITB Berlin are seeing potential in Selangor, which is gaining traction among European travellers, most of whom were previously more familiar with destinations like Langkawi.

While Maren Spohr, junior product manager Asia, Art of Travel Germany, has yet to see any interest from her clients in Selangor, she sees potential in the exotic offerings there.

Spohr said: “The luxury travellers are interested in exclusive resorts which offer unique experiences, so it will be a good selling point if we can find such offerings.”

Neil Gregory, representative from Vavoyage in the UK, said: “Selangor would appeal largely to the special interest groups which forms a smaller percentage of the mass market.

“It would be better if there are a lot of new mass market developments,” he suggested.

Overall, awareness of Malaysia is visibly drummed up this year, with Tourism Malaysia being the official partner country at ITB Berlin this year.

“I believe Malaysia’s cultural uniqueness is a big draw for the European market,” commented Mohamaddin Bin Haji Ketapi, minister of tourism, arts and culture for Malaysia. “As such the highlight of our presence at ITB this year will be the cultural aspects that we bring to the show.”

Malaysia’s participation as ITB partner country was deemed an instrumental step leading up to the Visit Malaysia 2020 campaign, as Malaysia targets 30 million arrivals and tourist receipts of RM100 billion (US$24 billion) by 2020.

Meanwhile, the move is also part of Tourism Malaysia’s efforts to rebuild promotions in Europe since Malaysia Airlines suspended flights to the key European cities of Frankfurt, Amsterdam and Paris in 2015 and 2016, while working to collaborate further with foreign airlines and foreign tour operators to sell the destination. – additional reporting S Puvaneswary

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