When tourism activities in Malaysia came to a standstill during the almost-three-month-long movement control order period from March 18, imposed to stem the spread of Covid-19 in the country, tour and event specialist Laili Basir found his business rudely terminated.
Laili, who has been running traditional tours since 2010 and is the founder of Laili Basir Event Adventure, made the decision to use his expertise in a different way.
He moved online to sell virtual tours to anyone who is keen to experience destinations and attractions through their screen.
He told TTG Asia: “Selling virtual tours allowed me to build my customer base. I am certain that people would want to physically travel and visit those destinations at a later period, at their convenience. When they do, they can contact me for my tour services.”
While he started the initiative off with Whatsapp videos, he soon moved to the Malaysia Virtual Experience platform developed by Tourism Productivity Nexus as well as Zoom. These platforms allowed him to conduct pre-recorded virtual tours that showcase off-the-beaten-track destinations such as Semporna, Taman Negara National Park, Merapoh Caves and Ulu Baram in Sarawak, as well as extreme activities such as paragliding, free diving and rope swing, to a wider audience.
He said: “My intention is to offer the audience insider information that they will never find on Google or from travel agents.
“For instance, I provide live commentary during the viewing of my pre-recorded videos (and invite) participants to ask questions as they would on an live tour.”
While domestic travel is now possible and encouraged in Malaysia, Laili continues to conduct his virtual excursions as they provide his clients with an opportunity to learn about destinations before they commit to a paid physical tour sold by him.
Next on his cards is to offer virtual tours of Malaysia to foreign visitors keen on the country, through international travel platforms such as Airbnb Online Experiences.
“I am identifying unique experiences and destinations to offer which are currently unavailable on the platform,” he said.