The largest tourism fair in the world, the ITB Berlin ended with a new visitor record: Some 120,000 visitors took the chance to dive into the world of tourism, with Malaysia’s pavilion clearly being among the most impressive ones in the halls dedicated to Asia.
Berlin’s Mayor Michael Müller officially opened the pavilion together with Malaysia’s Minister of Tourism and Culture Dato’ Seri Mohamed Nazri bin Abdul Aziz who attended the world’s largest tourism fair for the second time since his inauguration in 2013. “I always come when there is something to launch”, the Minister told MALAYSIA INSIGHTS with a smile, and this year there was a lot to launch indeed.
Such as a new cooperation between Tourism Malaysia and Singapore Airlines. Since the country’s own airline MAS had to close its European offices in 2014 and Lufthansa terminated its connection Frankfurt-Kuala Lumpur in 2015, there has been no direct air link between the countries any more which resulted in a drop of number of German visitors to Malaysia – albeit not as severe as feared. 144,910 German visitors were counted during 2015, compared to 158,453 in 2014. Still a solid number, “under the circumstances”, as the minister put it.
With Singapore Airlines being among the world’s best-rated airlines, this new collaboration is expected to help raising the visits from Europe again; after all, Singapore’s Changi airport is just a stone throw away from Malaysia, located at the most southern tip of the peninsula.
The two-year partnership was signed at ITB Berlin 2016, witnessed by Hon. Dato’ Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz, Minister of Tourism and Culture, Malaysia, H.E. Dato’ Zulkifli Adnan, Ambassador of Malaysia to Germany and H.E. Mr Jai S Sohan, Ambassador of the Republic of Singapore to Germany. It will take effect from 1 April 2016 and will see the two parties jointly explore and implement activities to promote tourist traffic to Malaysia through the Singapore hub. “We are thrilled to be working with Tourism Malaysia to boost air travel into Malaysia”, said Mr Foo Chai Woo of Singapore Airlines, “We look forward to offering more customers the opportunity to discover Malaysia’s unique culture and heritage, as well as its world-renowned cuisine.”
This is perfectly complemented by another initiative the Minister officially launched during ITB, a new tourism program jointly developed by the 10 ASEAN states Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Coined “Visit ASEAN @ 50: Golden Celebration” to honor ASEAN’s 50th anniversary in 2017, the campaign aims to extend the average length of stay (currently 6-7 days per tourist) and to promote visiting more than 2 ASEAN countries. The number of tourists is targeted at 121 million until the end of 2017 with revenues totalling 83 billion. The focus of the campaign are the “50 best festivals” and “50 unforgettable travel experiences”.
As the internet is becoming more and more important as a means of information for tourists who prefer to do their own research on potential destinations rather than consulting travel agencies, Malaysia is well-positioned in that area, too. At ITB, Minister Dato’ Seri Mohamed Nazri bin Abdul Aziz introduced the new domain malaysia.travel which is already online, providing latest tourism news and special offers.
Last but not least an app for smart phones called “i-fly by Smart-i” attracted great attention. The app allows travellers to ‘search, book now and pay later’, as the slogan for the software promises, and marks the first partnership of its kind between a Malaysian tourist mobile app operator and a Hong Kong-based mobile developer. The signing ceremony for the partnership between both firms was held at the Tourism Malaysia Promotional Booth and witnessed by the Minister of Tourism and Culture of Malaysia, Dato’ Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz.
Malaysia’s Consul General, Madam Adina Kamarudin, also paid a visit to the Malaysian Booth. Accompanied by Rosita Heilek of the MCD (Malaysian Club Deutschland) she took the chance to get first hand insights by the 49 Malaysian exhibitors and the Minister’s delegation from Malaysia.
Especially worth mentioning are fine cultural performances by Malaysian dancers and musicians shown during ITB. The Rungus Momogun Association from Borneo was present with 6 female and 2 male dancers, accompanied by 6 musicians. Their instruments were hand crafted gongs and drums called Agung and Tugung. Also hand made were their costumes which are the traditional cloths of the Rungus people, an ethnic group living in Northern Borneo. Even the minister adopted their dress during ITB to underline his appreciation and support for the Rungus people.
Another dance ensemble and a 6 piece band both came from Melaka. Their repertoire consisted of Malaysian songs, not necessarily from the state of Melaka but from the treasury of common Malaysian folk tales, and with such they won over the the crowd. Even the Minister and the Ambassador joined in dancing and singing.