What It Means For Malaysian Travellers After MCO
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For Malaysians, travelling is one the top joys in life. However, with the movement control order (MCO) and the lingering fear over Covid-19, it looks like the kind of air travel and international tourism we’ve grown accustomed to will have to take a back seat now.
So what would that mean for the travellers cooped up at home dreaming of satisfying their wanderlust again? For the people who spent their MCO looking up travel guides and drawing up itineraries for new places?
Well, there’s actually a silver lining: domestic travel will still be around after the MCO is lifted. If anything, we should be sticking to domestic travel for the time being, or at least until a vaccine is developed.
As for those in the domestic tourism industry, OYO Hotels & Homes Country Head Tan Ming Luk says that this is the best time for optimise the lack of crowds to continue improvement works on tourism assets, so that they can be ready to welcome tourists again at their full glory once the MCO is lifted and travel is available again.
He is optimistic that domestic travel will be one of the ways for the economy to recover, drawing examples from history.
When South Korea experienced a slump in tourism due to the MERS outbreak in 2015, foreign media and industry decision makers were invited to visit key tourism destinations to rebuild confidence as part of its recovery process.
Therefore, to continue generating more domestic trips within the country, there has to be an effort to draw out and refine the unique propositions of each destination.
For example, Malaysians have long expressed love for the concept of Jalan-Jalan Cari Makan. There are many guides on the best places to eat and local food itineraries for places such as Penang and Melaka. Durian-lovers journey to Pahang for the best fruits during durian season. Seafood lovers are willing to drive down to Sekinchan just for fresh catches.
Therefore, it’s a crucial time for local communities to identify and establish products that are uniquely specific, then establish and market that local specialty to the country or internationally.
For example, Japan has successfully integrated their “One Village One Product” movement into their manufacturing and tourism, which is how you get regional specialties such as Kobe beef which only comes from Kobe, fresh seafood dishes from Hokkaido or Kanto, and sanuki-udon from the Kagawa region. As such, domestic travel accounts for 82% of overall tourism earnings in Japan.
Even though Visit Malaysia Year 2020 has been cancelled, the RM1.1 billion budget previously allocated to the Ministry of Tourism, Arts, and Culture can certainly be channeled towards promoting domestic tourism instead.
Once the MCO is lifted, Malaysians will certainly still want to travel around. As life goes on, postponed events will be rescheduled, families will want to reunite, and the general populace will want to stretch their legs again. If we manage to attract them to help local businesses in the domestic tourism sector, Malaysia’s economy will most certainly see an improvement, and Malaysians themselves can get to appreciate all that the country has to offer.
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Anne is an advocate of sustainable living and the circular economy, and has managed to mum-nag the team into using reusable containers to tapau food. She is also a proud parent of 4 cats and 1 rabbit.