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Tourism Malaysia Needs Different Approach
Tourism Malaysia in Australia needs to rethink its marketing approach to the wake of rapidly changing travel and tourism trends, says Eddie Vela, a former senior Malaysia Airlines executive.

"With the rise of free independent travellers (FITs), with their growing affluence and high disposable income, a new trend is developing in the choice of destinations and the carrier they choose," he told the Australia-Malaysia Business Council at its monthly meeting here.

"Today, singles and upwardly mobile couples are looking for ways to break away from the staid ways of group travel. They are looking for cultural and educational experiences. They want to go off the beaten track and select choice destinations that interest them," he said.

Vela, who has served as Malaysia Airlines district manager for Victoria and Tasmania, said Tourism Malaysia in Australia must promote Malaysian sporting activities and facilities with vigour.

"Australians love sports, so any form of fun-filled adventure, activity-based experience and sporting events should be included in packages. This is bound to sell well," he said.

Vela, who now runs an aviation and tourism consultancy in Melbourne, said Australian jetsetters comprised four major groups.

They are FITs, corporate/business, MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) and leisure individuals/groups.

"The business and MICE travel budget in Australia is a huge market to tap into. These two segments have a budget of about A$17 billion a year for travel and entertainment, but Malaysia is getting only about 0.04 percent of the cake," he said.

Vela said Tourism Malaysia in Australia could get a bigger slice of the market through strong networking with corporate travel planners, in-house travel units, suppliers groups and direct marketing.

"Networking through relationship management and relationship marketing is the key to boost tourism to Malaysia," he said.

"Value-added services, such as good transportation, resorts, safety and other extra goodies in packages must also be highlighted. There is need to be visual and effective communicators to create a perception that Malaysia is a worthy destination with many attributes," he added.

According to Vela, carriers such as Air Emirates and its tourism body have successfully embarked on such a concept.

"Within 10 short years of operation in Australia, the United Arab Emirates has created a big impact on the corporate and conference venue segment," he said.

Vela said the old tried way of total reliance on travel agents to promote and deliver tourism growth and destinations was well and truly over.

"The emergence of new wave of technological changes in the travel industry and the ease of online and e-travel bookings have transformed the way corporate accounts, special interest groups, indiviudal and leisure travellers select and plan their travel itinerary," he said.

"Just as airlines have curbed commission payouts to travel agencies to streamline their operating costs or increase profitability, corporate and business organisations likewise are reducing their travel expenses by having their own travel units or appointing suppliers on a fee-based concept," he added.(BERNAMA)

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