Eager to meet its tourism goals, Melaka is reinventing itself with new attractions and world-class events; positive first quarter results show its initiatives are working.
Melaka State Government’s Visit Melaka Year 2019 campaign, aimed at increasing visitor arrivals to 20 million tourists this year, is already bearing fruit.
The state saw a 17.5 per cent increase in tourist arrivals to 4.8 million in 1Q2019, from the same period last year. Of these, 3.4 million were domestic tourists and 1.4 million were foreign tourists.
Under the umbrella campaign, initiatives are multi-pronged.
Special events have been curated for this campaign including the recent Melaka Food Festival, Melaka By the Sea Carnival in September, and Melaka Fiesta in October.
Tourism Melaka, through its Tourism Information Centres in Ayer Keroh and Jalan Kota, are giving away discount vouchers for entrance tickets to 28 attractions, including Melaka River Cruise, Menara Taming Sari, Encore Melaka and Melaka Maritime Museum.
Melaka’s travel trade partners have come onboard with the campaign, some pushing out their own initiatives.
Said Uzaidi Udanis, president, Malaysian Inbound Tourism Association (MITA): “On our part, MITA organised a three-day inbound tourism boot camp in Melaka in July that was attended by 50 tour operators and product owners. We identified and developed eight new tourism products and packages for foreign markets. Some new ideas include a walk to Konet Island during low tide from Telok Gong and an overnight stay at the former mansion used by the governor of Melaka, Mohd Khalid Yaakob.”
He added: “Melaka may only be a small state, but it is steeped in history and culture. Its UNESCO recognition received in 2008 has also been a boost for tourism.”
Klaus Sennik, general manager, Ramada Plaza by Wyndham Melaka, shared: “As a hotel, we are also taking our own initiatives to support the campaign through our hotel activities and campaigns to garner more publicity and support for this campaign which has resulted in a gradual increase in hotel occupancy.”
Asmaliana Ashari, senior manager, Tourism Melaka, said the campaign is also aimed at creating more awareness of the destination’s facilities and capabilities for business events.
Foreign tourists from this segment spend three times more than the average leisure tourist. Last year, the average spend per tourist per night was RM504 (US$122). For international business tourists, the average length of stay is six nights.
Arokia Das, director, Luxury Tours Malaysia, said: “With 186 events planned for the year, and new live theatre productions such as Encore Melaka and Rasa Melaka, it is easier to promote Melaka to meeting planners. These professionally-run shows with elements of heritage and culture cater to the needs of meeting planners.
“Meeting planners are looking for new destinations beyond Kuala Lumpur and within a two-hour drive from the city. In this respect, Melaka fits the bill. Kuala Lumpur has lost some of its allure for repeat leisure tourists because of the absence of new attractions; tourists have been cutting down their stay in the city to one or two days.
“We are trying to entice day trippers travelling south to Singapore to spend at least a night in Melaka instead, by highlighting the state’s rich history, culture, gastronomy and ecotourism products to Asian markets.”