A festive red hibiscus, a wild green fern, and a brilliant blue rhinoceros hornbill will be welcoming visitors to Malaysia over the next 18 months - the Visit Truly Asia Malaysia 2020 campaign has now been launched.
The hibiscus flower is a very appropriate choice to promote the country: it’s the bunga raya, the flower of celebration. Now, Malaysia’s national flower will be reaching out to the world to promote a proud and diverse culture, a lush flora and fauna, and a dynamic and dreamy holiday destination where visitors can soak up endless sunshine.
The Visit Malaysia 2020 campaign was opened by Prime Minister of Malaysia Tun Dr.Mahathir Mohamad in a ceremony at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in July. Tun Dr. Mahathir set the ambitious goal of attracting 30 million international visitors - this is a boost from 2018 when Malaysia welcomed a 25.8 million international tourists. But with growth in arrivals already up by 4.8% in the first five months of this year, the country is already well on its way to reaching its target.
“Without a doubt, tourism is one of the most important sectors to ensure the country's economic and service sector growth,” Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir said during his opening speech. “The Visit Malaysia 2020 campaign is an opportunity, as well as a challenge for us to attract record numbers of visitors to Malaysia, and make the country a destination of choice for leisure and business tourists.”
Malaysia is truly playing on its strengths with this campaign: the focus of Visit Truly Asia Malaysia 2020 is ecotourism, arts and culture. A central element is the welcoming spirit of the people of Malaysia. “We will welcome visitors from all over the world to experience the uniqueness and beauty of Malaysia’s ecotourism attractions, including our rainforests, mountains, islands and beaches,” said Tun Dr.Mahathir . The campaign logo, designed by Alfred Phua Hong Fook, was inspired by Batik, Malaysia’s colourful and distinctive textile art. The featured fern is the paku pakis, an edible plant popular in local dishes and a nod to the country’s multi-ethnic cuisine. “Visitors will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in our diverse culture, arts, heritage and history,” said Tun Dr. Mahathir.
The entire country is pulling together to make Visit Malaysia 2020 a reality. Government ministries and non-governmental organisations alike have pledged their support, alongside corporate partners including Sharp Electronics, Malaysia Airlines, AirAsia, Firefly, and Malindo Air - the four airlines will all be flying with the new logo brandished on their tailfins. Malaysia Airports has partnered with Condor Air, Air Arabia and Busan Air in launching new routes into Malaysia from key international destinations. To speed things along, Visa on Arrival facilities are now available in 13 entry points in Malaysia across land, air and sea, ensuring a hassle-free experience for visitors from countries such as China and India, two of Malaysia’s fastest-growing tourist markets.
This isn’t the first Visit Malaysia campaign - it was first launched in 1990 by Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir in anticipation of tourism’s increasingly important role for the country’s economy. “Today, almost three decades later, what we had envisaged then had come true. Tourist arrivals have increased steadily and Malaysia has truly become popular and able to hold our own against other global destinations,” said Tun Dr. Mahathir. Kuala Lumpur was the world’s 9th most visited destination in 2017, according to Euromonitor International: “This is something that we can be proud of, and should serve to motivate us to double our promotional efforts of Malaysia in the future,” said Tun Dr. Mahathir.
Tourism is big business: the country made RM84.1 billion (USD 20bn) from tourism in 2018, and the first four months of 2019 saw this surge by 16.9%, trending strongly towards the 2020 target of RM100 billion (USD 24bn) in tourism revenues. To ensure these ambitious plans come to fruition, RM 500 million (USD 120m) have been set aside to aid handicraft and homestay businesses, and RM 1 billion (USD 240m) has been added to the country’s Tourism Infrastructure Fund.
Ultimately, the success of the Visit Malaysia 2020 campaign will stem from the support of the locals - the people who make the country such a remarkable place. “Our hospitality must not be merely a slogan, but translated into the nature and culture of our people,” said Tun Dr. Mahathir It really won’t be difficult to tempt visitors: just tell them about the tropical gardens, the remote islands, the peaceful monasteries, the bustling skyscrapers, and the chance to eat some of the best street food in the world. And just like that, the desire to discover the gem that is Malaysia has been awakened.