NEW YORK, Jan 29 — The Los Angeles office of Tourism Malaysia made a strong pitch at the New York Times Travel Show 2018, the most important event on the east coast for the travel and tourism sector, to promote Malaysia as an attractive destination for visitors from the United States.
Since the closure of Tourism Malaysia’s New York office last year, the onus of promoting Malaysia in North America has now fallen on the Los Angeles office.
The promotion works, in particular, is in providing greater visibility to Malaysia through publicity and other promotional activities, as done by the tourism promotion offices of Thailand, Indonesia, India, Japan, South Korea and other Asian countries.
In a market such as the United States, publicity and other promotional activities are an integral part of the overall promotion work.
Another challenge facing the Tourism Malaysia office is that there is no direct connectivity between the US and Malaysia after Malaysia Airlines stopped flying to this country a few years back.
In effect, tourists have to rely on airlines of other countries flying into the US and then to Malaysia via their home base. Singapore Airline, Eva Air, China Airlines, Emirates, Qatar Airways are some of the airlines that fly from the US to Malaysia via their home base entailing a layover time.
Azilina Azni Zainal Abidin, vice president of the Los Angeles office of Tourism Malaysia, explained that she was at the New York show to “tell the customers that we are still very much in the US despite the closure of the New York office. Maintaining continuity is an important aspect of our participation (at the New York show)”.
“Our participation in New York may be modest; however, it is important to highlight what Malaysia has to offer them,” Azni said in an interview with Bernama, pointing out that the US dollar goes a long way in Malaysia.
The present exchange rate of the US dollar at about RM3.86 makes it attractive for the US tourists to visit Malaysia.
Tourism traffic from the US to Malaysia had declined by approximately 10.2 per cent in the January-October 2017 period. In absolute figures, 165,722 US visitors were clocked in Malaysia during that period, compared with 184,502 visitors in the year-earlier period.
Malaysia’s presence at the show was to meet travel agents, tour operators and consumers.
“The Los Angeles team is here for the first time, since past participations were organised by the New York office,” Azni said, adding that US tourists were driven by several factors such as nature and wildlife, sun and beaches, the diversity of Malaysia’s cuisine and culture and, most importantly, the hospitable people.
“Our food is also a major attraction because of its uniqueness and diversity. Take, for example, our satay which is different because of its taste. Laksa is another popular dish, with every state having its own variety of laksa,” Azni noted.
Asked to explain the impact of lack of direct connectivity with Malaysia, Azni replied: “We miss our national carrier but we also have good connectivity through other airlines.” But she acknowledged that it was necessary to have greater budget allocations for advertising and creating an awareness about Malaysia.
“Our emphasis is to convey to the customers that although we are based in Los Angeles, we have not forgotten them,” she said. — Bernama
Source : Malay Mail Online