Malaysia is embarking on a comprehensive digitalisation journey to employ initiatives that will help develop its tourism industry through education, as well as the creation of smart eco-management of destinations.
Malaysia’s prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad, said in his keynote address at the World Tourism Conference in Kuala Lumpur on Monday that by “embracing” digitalisation, it will help the tourism industry to be “internationally-connected”, and provide data analytics of tourism futures while shortening the supply chain.
But for this to materialise, Mahathir pointed out that a new investment climate was necessary to cultivate an environment to enable the tourism industry to move forward.
“Investment in hard and soft infrastructure need to be balanced. National policies need to allow for investment incentives in more intangible products such as data acquisition, content creation and online platform presence,” he elaborated.
As part of the new National Tourism Policy (2021 to 2030), Malaysia will also be designating Special Tourism Investment Zones throughout the country, where incentives are being formulated to attract both hardware and technology-based investment in the tourism sector.
In addition, as part of the country’s National Ecotourism Plan 2016-2025, Malaysia is also developing cluster-based ecotourism destinations with special concession packages that inculcate the use of technology and smart eco-management of the destinations.
Mahathir added that the aim was for the country to become “The Capital of Smart Ecotourism Destination”, and reiterated that education of all stakeholders as well as travellers is needed to help develop a tourist sector that is “responsible, sustainable and inclusive”.
He said: “Industry stakeholders are now venturing more actively into the sharing economy, digital platforms, social media integration and big data analytics to customise tourism experience offerings to specific demographics across the globe.
“As tourists’ arrivals are forecasted to reach 1.8 billion people by 2030, we foresee a wider base of services being offered beyond the conventional tourism-focused activity, to include medical, filming, adventure sports, content development, religious activities, gaming and green technology.”
According to the World Economic Forum’s Digital Transformation initiatives, digitalisation in tourism is expected to contribute up to US$305 billion of value through increased profitability by 2025. It will also generate benefits valued at US$700 billion for businesses and wider society.