MUSA YUSOF : The ‘Cuti-Cuti Malaysia’ Campaign was first introduced on the 11th of September 1999 to stimulate the growth of the number of domestic tourists in our country. The main objective of this campaign is to encourage the locals to plan their vacation properly and this campaign was targetted to reverse the view of locals that vacationing is something unnecessary and a waste of time and money.
Other than that, this campaign is aimed at changing the ‘balik kampung’ (back to hometown) tradition into a tourism activity. This campaign was later rebranded to Zoom! Malaysia on 14th May 2008 and finally changed to ‘Cuti-Cuti 1Malaysia’ Campaign, in line with the 1Malaysia concept introduced by The Right Hon. Prime Minister, Dato’ Sri Haji Mohd. Najib bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak.
In promoting this campaign, the government issued a few directives that contribute towards the success of this campaign such as the provision of additional leave on the first and the third Saturday of every month to all public sector employees. The launch of the low-cost airline, AirAsia, on the 1st December 2001 also helped in boosting the domestic tourism industry. The peak of the growth of the domestic tourism industry was when the government declared five working days a week starting from 1st July 2005.
GTN : What are the strategies that Tourism Malaysia has set up to promote the destinations in Malaysia to the domestic market?
MUSA YUSOF: Tourism Malaysia has planned numerous promotional programmes such as ‘Cuti-Cuti 1Malaysia Night Travel Fair’ in i-City, Shah Alam recently which was the first travel fair to be organised at night. Apart from that, we also participate in travel fairs organised by non-governmental organisations like MATTA Fair, Malaysia Tourism Fair and Malaysia International Travel Mart. In the effort to promote Malaysian destinations, Tourism Malaysia always works hand in hand with the media, industry players, public and private sectors. Various activities have been strategised and implemented such as familiarisation trips, television shows and product updates. Along with that, we always ensure that the information about the interesting tourism destinations remains up-to-date for the domestic market.
GTN : What are the channels used in promoting the domestic destinations to the target groups?
MUSA YUSOF: As I have mentioned in the previous answer, we have organised and participated in tourism exhibition nationwide in allowing the domestic travellers to buy holiday packages offered by the travel agencies. For those who have missed the last travel fair, we have printed a lot of ‘Cuti-Cuti 1Malaysia’ package brochures to be distributed to the public and the information about the domestic destinations is available at all 13 State Tourism Malaysia offices. There are 25 Tourism Information Centres scattered around the country for tourists’ convenience, apart from the Mobile Tourist Information Centre that are placed at all tourist spots.
Other than that, the public can access the information through the website, www.tourismmalaysia.gov.my and info line at 1 300 88 5050. Tourism Malaysia is also keeping up with the technology by setting up an account in Facebook (www.facebook.com/CutiCuti1Malaysia). For smart phone users, they are able to download applications such as Truly Asia and go2homestay.com that are compatible with iPhone, Android and Blackberry, also made available through the Tourism Malaysia website.
GTM : How are these target groups categorised under the domestic market?
MUSA YUSOF : The target groups for the domestic market cover all walks of life and they are divided into 11 groups: Urbanites; Golden Third Age/G3A; Youths; Families; Social Movements like Alumni, Clubs or Associations; Students; Double Income No Kids; Domestic MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions & Exhibitions; and Eco-tourists.
GTM : Which destinations and new attractions would you consider popular?
MUSA YUSOF : The destinations that we expect to be popular among domestic tourists are divided into a few segments: eco-travel; culture and heritage; beaches and islands; and highlands – all of these destinations are promoted through ‘Cuti-Cuti 1Malaysia’ packages.
Besides that, we are now aggressively promoting the homestays to the domestic market because up to August 2011, there are 148 homestays that participate in the homestay programme and the price starts from only RM80 per person per night, which is good value for money. The homestays allow the tourists to enjoy the experience of peaceful living in the villages. The focus of homestays is not the accommodation per se but more importantly, it offers the priceless experience of getting to know the welcoming locals, their unique cultures and ways of life.
Apart from that, we also organise several new events like Fabulous Food 1Malaysia, Malaysia International Shoe Festival and 1Malaysia Contemporary Art Festival. The event Fabulous Food 1Malaysia was held in 30 venues in the country, promoting Malaysian specialties such as rendang, nasi beriyani and char kway teow. Food is also the theme for this year’s 1Malaysia Year End Sale Campaign that runs from the 15th of November to the 1st of January 2012. As for Malaysia International Shoe Festival, Shoe Roadshows were held at all major shopping malls. The Tourism Ministry has also published Tourism Art Trail that enlists all the contemporary art galleries where the domestic tourists can visit.
For nature lovers, we are also promoting 22 parks that are identified to be of high potential. Little that we all know, in Peninsular Malaysia alone, we have more than 8,500 species of flowers and between 10,000 and 12,000 in Borneo, indicating that when it comes to ecological diversity, our flora is greatly diverse, able to fascinate botanists and horticulturalists from around the world.
GTM : How far has the local tourism industry expanded in the last five years?
MUSA YUSOF : In 2007, Visit Malaysia Year was held – our country prepared to welcome many tourists by training 20,000 front-liners to improve the service quality through ‘Malaysia Welcomes the World’ programme, which as a result provided over a million job opportunities. Malaysia is now ranked as the 11th country that received most tourists in 2008 and 9th in the year 2009. Alhamdullillah, in 2010, the tourism industry has generated RM56.5 billion for the country, equivalent to contributing RM1 billion per week, chalking up 24.6 million tourist arrivals. Within the domestic segment, 115.5 million tourist arrivals and RM34.7 billion of tourism recepits were recorded.
Malaysia was also chosen by Lonely Planet as part of the list for Best in Travel 2010 and Best Value Destination 2010 and we also won second place as Best International Tourism Destination (2009 & 2010) by the Global Traveller Magazine (USA). Kuala Lumpur is now included as one of the 31 suggested tourist’s destinations in the world.
GTM : What are the weaknesses in the domestic tourism industry? How do we overcome these weaknesses?
MUSA YUSOF : When we are talking about domestic holiday destinations, most of us are still wondering where to go and what to do and a lot of the people are always looking forward to spend their holidays abroad, which they assume is reasonable and satisfying. Therefore, to counter this, we use strategies and channels to convey the message that within Malaysia itself there are countless interesting destinations that are value-for-money, even better than the ones abroad. There are still many destinations that are yet to be explored within the country and we are encouraging locals to plan and organise their holidays so that there will be no accommodation problems and traffic congestion.
We do receive complaints from tourists regarding the level of cleanliness at the holiday destinations. To resolve this matter, Ministry of Tourism has launched ‘1Malaysia Bersih, 1Malaysia Indah’ Campaign (1Malaysia Clean, 1Malaysia Green) on the 18th of July 2010 to create awareness among the public and products owners to improve the level of cleanliness at the respective destinations.
GTM : What are your hopes and dreams towards the industry players of domestic tourism?
MUSA YUSOF : I always tell the industry players that co-operation from everyone is needed for the domestic tourism industry to progress. I really hope that the travel agencies, from time to time, will update their packages and try to come up with more creative and innovative packages that will attract more domestic tourists. Tourism products and packages must be varied in order to meet the market demands, while the hotels, resorts and holiday destinations must ensure that their products are of high quality and service is delivered accordingly, regardless as to whether they are serving local or foreign guests. The tourism industry is very dynamic, thus all tourism players must be flexible and agile to keep up with the rapid changes.
GTM : What do you think about the ‘Kembara Cuti-Cuti 1Malaysia’ Programme organised by Gaya Travel Magazine in collaboration with Domestic Marketing Division, Tourism Malaysia?
MUSA YUSOF : This smart collaboration is aimed at widely exposing the various tourism products and destinations to the public through various media channels. This effort must be done continuously so that many destinations and tourism products can be made known to as many Malaysian citizens and residents as possible. Besides that, this program provides the opportunity to the tourism operators and product owners to further promote their products and build connections with the media and other industry players.
We have been working with Gaya Travel Magazine for three years now and so far, the program is a success based on the participation and feedback from the participating media. The products owners also have responded positively towards this programme and on that note, I congratulate Gaya Travel Magazine for the good work in helping Tourism Malaysia’s Domestic Marketing Division in promoting our local tourism products.