By Oon Yeoh
When it comes to tourism, online is the way most visitors find out information about where to go and what to do during their holidays. This year, the nation is ushering in the fourth edition of its “Visit Malaysia Year” (there were three similar year-long celebrations in 1990, 1994 and 2007). Themed “Celebrating 1Malaysia, Truly Asia”, VMY 2014 aims to attract some 28 million tourists over the course of the year.
That’s roughly the same as the population of the country. A grand ambition indeed but with the help of the Internet, it might just be achievable. Even if a tourist who has never heard about Malaysia and doesn’t have a clue about what to be found here, a quick visit to some websites will give them a good idea.
A good place to start of course is the official website. It’s a very comprehensive website containing ample information for tourists and media alike. The “ABOUT VMY2014” menu button will lead you to various resources clearly intended for the press, with lots of background information about past Visit Malaysia Years and about the country. There are also downloadable graphics suitable for print. Although targetted at the media, this section is fully accessible to the public and some – even Malaysians – might find the information interesting. It’s a way to know more about your own country!
What might be of greater interest to foreigners and locals alike are the listings such as “SEE & DO”, “EAT & DRINK” and “SHOPPING”. As I had mentioned earlier, it’s very comprehensive and contains something for everyone.
Social media power!
In this day and age, a website is never enough and you’ve got to have social media. And so there is the VMY2014 Twitter and Facebook Pages. The former is very image heavy, which is unusual for a Twitter page but totally suitable for VMY2014. What better way than to get a sense of what to expect in Malaysia than to see breath-taking images on your Twitter stream. Go here to follow the page. If you prefer to see short video clips, then the VMY2014 Facebook Page is the place to go.
Besides the official VMY2014 website, there’s also the Tourism Malaysia portal, which naturally heavily supports VMY2014, with a strong emphasis on highlighting events and festivals in the country. If you scroll all the way down, you’ll find a section on Packages and Promotions that has some really interesting things to do. For example, the “Voluntourism Packages” with details about a programme where participants go on a vacation while participating in voluntary activities.
In other words, it refers to voluntary activities that are carried out to protect and preserve the green and clean environment in Malaysia, particularly at tourist spots in East Malaysia. Activities range from 1 Day to 28 Days/27 Nights. It’s really something quite different for tourists to consider, especially for those who like an unconventional holiday.
If you’re a short film lover, you’re in for a treat. Tropfest South East Asia, the first Asian edition of the world’s largest short film festival, will give a boost to Visit Malaysia Year 2014 through its Tropfest SEA 2014 Festival Day at The Esplanade on January 25. More than 10,000 viewers are expected to attend the event featuring Jakarta-based White Shoes and The Couples Company and local cello rock group, Paladin.
Tropfest SEA managing director Joe Sidek said the festival would also announce the top 12 finalists’ films selected from over 180 short film entries from nine Southeast Asian countries. “Bringing these finalists to Penang to showcase their work and afford them an opportunity tapping into the global market, marks the start of an exciting new stage of their Tropfest SEA journey,” he said.
Speaking of films, if you don’t have time to visit any of these websites or social media sites and literally only have two minutes to spare, visit this page: http://vimeo.com/83497612 for a breath-taking overview of what Malaysia is truly about. In one minute and 54 seconds, you will fall in love with the country.
Oon Yeoh is a new media consultant.