Malaysia tapping digital technology to boost smart tourism development



Dr Mahathir addressing the 2019 World Tourism Conference (BERNAMA)

Dr Mahathir addressing the 2019 World Tourism Conference (BERNAMA)

Kuala Lumpur: Malaysia is embarking on a comprehensive digitalization journey to transform its tourism industry with smart tourism initiatives in line with the Fourth Industrial Revolution (IR4.0), Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad has said.

“We believe (that) by embracing the whole spectrum of digitalization, we will be able to provide the necessary tools for the tourism industry to be internationally connected, perform rigorous data analytics of tourism futures and shorten the supply chain,” Dr Mahathir said, quoted by the national news agency BERNAMA.

“For all these to materialize, a new investment climate is pertinent for a conducive environment to enable the technology-centered tourism industry to charge forward. Investment in hard and soft infrastructure needs 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, the prime minister said in his address at the 2019 World Tourism Conference.

Industry stakeholders are venturing even more actively into sharing the economy, digital platform, social media integration, as well as big data analytics to customize tourism experience offerings to specific demographics across the globe, he added.

Digitalization of the tourism sector is also crucial because technological advancement has also led consumers to utilize mobile devices and online platforms to access information and arrange, book and plan an entire holiday, he said.

Dr Mahathir stressed that specific incentives were being formulated to attract both hard infrastructure investment as well as new technology-based investment in the tourism sector.

“Tourism industry should also be the catalyst to environmental protection, preservation, and conservation of local culture and heritage.”

This this will ensure that the wealth from tourism is spread widely to reach even the remote communities that offer unique experiences to the tourists.

“As such, one area where this can be achieved is through sustainable ecotourism development. Ecotourism is a high-value sub-sector that offers genuine experience and adventure that is unique to a particular locality. Naturally, due to its scarcity, it has the potential to become a premier destination, which brings in high-value tourists,” he said.

Ecotourism conservation can enrich tourists’ experience and fulfil their sense of responsibility in giving back to nature – which again will attract high-spending visitors, contributing to the increase in revenue, he added.

According to Dr Mahathir, technology incentives for eco-tour package development, eco-resort building design and innovative business processes can be considered by governments and implemented by destination managers and tour operators.

“Within the context of Malaysia, we are blessed with our more than 130 million years old pristine rainforests, our beaches, islands, spectacular natural wonders, and national parks; and the diversity of our people,” he said.

“This has positioned Malaysia as a preferred eco-tourism destination in the world and, through our National Ecotourism Plan 2016-2025, we are developing cluster-based ecotourism destinations with special concession packages that inculcate the use of technology and smart eco-management of destinations.”

The government is committed to exploring new avenues through technology transformation in tourism and smart destination management to educate industry players, tourists and the local community, he said.

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