Under the theme ‘Tourism Delights: Delivering the Unexpected’, the Conference focused on strategies to enhance the visitors experience under the principle of “tourists first”. The round tables on ‘Tourism a Sunrise Industry?’ and ‘Tourism Experiences: Breaking New Grounds’ debated tourism trends beyond 2030 as well as how to reinvent the sector with a customer-oriented focus.
“We have witnessed two revolutions: on technology and on travel. The confluence of these has resulted in a new traveller who is technology-savvy, connected and informed who increasingly desires authentic, unique and valuable travel experiences and who is also more responsible and conscientious. Our sector needs to harness the emerging desire for ‘positive-impact’ tourism to contribute to a better world,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai at the Opening of the Conference.
“A key element to advance tourism is creativity and innovation (…) in that regard, Malaysia has enhanced its tourism products by packaging “local community’s daily life” into a touristic offer – the “homestay experience” – providing travelers the opportunity to immerse in the traditional village lifestyle and to interact with local hosts, as well as other initiatives such as Villagestay, Visit MyFelda and Visit MyLonghouse,” explained the Minister of Tourism of Malaysia, YB Dato’ Seri Mohamed Nazri bin Abdul Aziz.
Additional sessions were dedicated to the endless opportunities that tourism brings to communities, where the relevance of sustainable practices, rural and youth tourism were underlined.
Malaysia has recently presented the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) which has prioritized tourism as a catalyst for economic prosperity. Ecotourism, family-friendly destination, business tourism, and events, entertainment and sports have been emphasized within this strategy. With this Programme, Malaysia hopes to reach 36 million tourist arrivals by the year 2020. In 2015, Malaysia received 27.5 million international tourist arrivals.