Towards a closer friendship among neighbours

09:00 | 03/07/2019
Tourism Malaysia’s Deputy Director General, Zulkifly bin Md. Said, shares his insight about the cooperation potentialities in tourism between Malaysia and Vietnam during the Mega FAM trip to Malaysia with Phuong Hao.
towards a closer friendship among neighbours

What do you think about the opportunities for the Vietnamese tourism market?

In 2018, Vietnam had a total of 10 million people going on holidays overseas, and 340,000 of them went to Malaysia. During the first three months of this year, around 116,000 Vietnamese tourists already came to Malaysia. Moreover, I am confident that by the end of the year, we will receive about 500,000 Vietnamese tourists.

towards a closer friendship among neighbours
Zulkifly bin Md. Said

Vietnam is Malaysia’s neighbour, and both are ASEAN member states. We want to improve the inner ASEAN tourism market and encourage ASEAN travellers with suitable policies because we think that ASEAN people should visit ASEAN countries before going outside. We hope that Vietnamese visitors will think of Malaysia first when deciding to go on their holidays in another country. Since Vietnam and Malaysia share many similarities like weather, time zone and cuisine, Vietnamese visitors have not many difficulties in Malaysia. Currently, there are even a lot of Vietnamese people living and working in Malaysia. Our official religion is Islam, and I know that in Vietnam, you also have a small Muslim community. It’s a good chance for them to get to know the Muslim community in Malaysia, and particularly join in religious practices such as the holy Ramadan or celebrate Hari Raya Aidilfitri (the “Festival of Breaking the Fast”) together with our people.

Of course, Vietnam is one of the important markets for Malaysia. For over 15 years, Malaysia has promoted tourism in Vietnam. We also have an office to do marketing here. So far, Tourism Malaysia (TM) in Vietnam has had many co-operations with partners all over Vietnam like travel agencies, Vietnam Airlines, and some others.

towards a closer friendship among neighbours

In your opinion, what are the strong points of Malaysia for Vietnamese tourists?

The first strong point is that there is no difference in the weather between Vietnam and Malaysia. Tourists can wear the same clothes here too. You can also have rice, sticky rice, and steamy rice, together with fish or meat - like in Vietnam. Moreover, Malaysia is a very peaceful country with friendly people. They will welcome anyone who wants to visit our beautiful country. Particularly, Kuala Lumpur is considered the shopping heaven with famous international and local brands for reasonable prices, and as far as I know, Vietnamese people like shopping.

Besides, there are direct flights from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to Kuala Lumpur. So, it is very convenient to travel from Vietnam to Malaysia, and Vietnamese travellers can have their different demands and expectations well fulfilled here.

As a multiracial country with many festivals, diversified culture and cuisine, Malaysia is an excellent destination for foreign tourists in general and Vietnamese ones in particular.

towards a closer friendship among neighbours

ASEAN tourism ministers have had many meetings to promote and develop this industry. What should Malaysia, Vietnam, and other countries do to reach the target?

A government can only encourage, and I think that ASEAN countries’ governments should have policies that the first country that people travel to must be in the region. With a population of over 662 million people, it would be a good way to contribute to ASEAN tourism development. Besides, private and public sectors should work together to build products and infrastructure that serve the tourism industry. However, to achieve these goals, we will need guidelines as well as dedicated budgets to improve the economies in general and tourism in particular. Of course, once again, I want to emphasise that the government can only encourage and give clear guidelines.

So far, people in the ASEAN community can travel everywhere including to Malaysia without the need for visas, except for Myanmar. TM has also set up offices in Vietnam and other countries, which means that we are serious about the business. The ASEAN region is an essential market for us. Additionally, we also organise FAM trips and Mega FAM trips to promote our destinations to ASEAN countries as well as to the world.

What are your expectations and hopes for Malaysian tourism in 2020?

So far, we have many new products and a new campaign to tell the world that Malaysia has a variety of themed offers with new destinations, hotels, and resorts. 2020 will be a very special number, so we want to take advantage of that and offer the best possible experiences for our guests. If possible, we would like the whole world to think about coming to Malaysia in 2020.

By Phuong Hao

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