By Alang Bendahara
On April 1, Malaysia transitioned to the much-awaited endemic phase of Covid-19, marking the event with the reopening of its borders. As airports brace for the influx of foreign visitors, what does this hold for Selangor?
Tourism Selangor chief executive officer Azrul Shah Mohamad, in an interview with Selangor Journal, said the state is already ready with its post-pandemic visitor plan. According to the latest United Nations World Tourism Organisation Panel of Experts, 64 per cent of its members said that they expect global international arrivals to return to 2019 levels only in 2024 or later.
Yet, at the height of the pandemic in 2021, Selangor was already attracting a remarkable 3,187,018 tourists to the state, with 77 per cent of them being domestic tourists and the rest coming from outside of Malaysia.
From the pool of international tourists, 26 per cent came from China, 8 per cent
from Singapore, seven per cent from Japan, six per cent from Indonesia and another six per cent from India. Most visited for health and wellness purposes under the umbrella of medical tourism, and also to conduct business as commercial travel was not permitted last year.
“This came as no surprise as Selangor has 46 world-class hospitals that are recognised by the Malaysia Healthcare Tourism Council (MHTC) under the Ministry of Health Malaysia (MOH),” said Azrul Shah.
“Also, Selangor’s unique selling point is its accessibility and connectivity as it is
strategically located with advanced transportation. It also offers varied tourism segmentation, from eco- and agro-tourism to theme parks, sports tourism, experiential
tourism, cultural and heritage tourism, and shopping and retail. Selangor has it
all,” he said.
It comes as no surprise that domestic tourism has seen a surge as social restrictions ease across the country. Similar to other states, staycations have proven to be the most popular tourism activity in Selangor, with local councils’ data showing high occupancy rates during weekends.
Capitalising on this and on the idea of the hungry traveller, Tourism Selangor has introduced Deliciously Selangor: The Ultimate Selangor Food Directory that can be found online in multiple languages for easy access.
The guide aims to create memorable gastronomic experiences for people on ‘makan-makan’ or food hunting trips by offering an extensive list of cafes and restaurants to choose from.
Tourism Selangor hopes that by introducing “a unique journey of tastes” — be it enjoying rambutans fresh off a tree at a fruit farm, feasting on crabs in Kuala Selangor or tucking into a plate of satay Kajang — visitors will come back for more.
On other domestic plans, Azrul said Tourism Selangor will strengthen its Pusing Selangor Dulu campaign by embarking on the Jelajah Pusing Selangor Dulu 2022 promotional tour to three states — Kedah, Johor and Sabah — which have shown tremendous tourist arrival potential.
Meanwhile, to attract international tourists, he said efforts to promote the state through the Splendid Selangor campaign will continue, as will the use of the Business-to-Business (B2B) and Business-to-Consumers (B2C) approaches that have covered almost 40 countries around the globe.
“In the first quarter of this year, Tourism Selangor had participated in tourism and trade expos such as FITUR 2022 and Expo 2020 Dubai, and our upcoming participation will be at the Seatrade Cruise Global 2022 in Miami, Florida in late April and at the World Travel Market in London in November,” he said.
In acknowledging the importance of digitalisation, Tourism Selangor has recently launched its own travel app Go Selangor to provide tourists full access to the state’s tourism products. The app also serves as a one-stop centre for merchants like travel operators and food traders to point tourists to the most interesting locations in Selangor.
Tourism Selangor is also utilising the creative talents of the team behind the popular Cyberjaya-based animated series BoBoiBoy to promote the state.
“A video featuring BoBoiBoy and his superfriends visiting popular destinations in Selangor will be released after Hari Raya Aidilfitri this year in multiple languages to attract local and international travellers as the animation has been featured on the Disney Channel,” said Azrul.
Based on feedback from international travel agents, Azrul is confident that the recovery of Selangor’s tourism sector is underway as tourists from China and the Middle East are raring to come and visit.
“They can’t wait to do their ‘revenge travel’. So we are confident once everything is settled they will come again and we are prepared to accept them,” he said.
This article first appeared in the Selangor Journal monthly May edition, published on April 25, 2022