Over the last one year, we have been engaged by a private company to serve as consultants in a project that entails the promotion of domestic tourism in Malaysia. In the course of the project, I have come to the conclusion that promotion of domestic tourism in Malaysia is an herculean task. There are actually two main reasons as to why promotion of domestic tourism in Malaysia is so hard.
The first main challenge associated with the promotion of domestic tourism in Malaysia is something to do with the people’s mindsets. You come to realize that many Malaysians have this notion that they have ‘seen all there is to see’ in the nation. They therefore believe that the only ‘tourism’ they can be part of is that which entails visiting another nation. This mindset is difficult to change, because even as you go around the hospitality facilities, you realize that the only people who are regarded (and catered for) as ‘tourists’ are the foreign visitors. It is hard to convince the folks who operate the hospitality facilities that locals can also be genuine ‘tourists’.
The second main challenge associated with the promotion of domestic tourism in Malaysia is something to do with the people’s finances. This is where you realize that there is a considerable number of people who are struggling financially in Malaysia, and who therefore can’t afford to travel locally for leisure purposes. These are folks who only travel when it is necessary, and then only for specific purposes – and not for leisure. It becomes hard to convince someone who is struggling with the basics of life to consider traveling for fun. You also come to realize that travel comes very low in most people’s priorities. Thus even when they happen to get money, they have other forms of fun they can have. Local travel comes as a last priority.