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Cost-effective strategies needed in tourism industry

THE CHANGING TRENDS … Masidi (centre) during the press conference yesterday after officiating the seminar, accompanied by Gordon (far left), Mohmed Razip (2nd left), KL Tan (2nd right) and Robert (far right).

21st February, 2017

By MOHD IZHAM B. HASHIM Izham@newsabahtimes.com.my

KOTA KINABALU: Tourism players need to find cost-effective strategies that generate better returns for their investment on promotion campaigns to attract tourists to Sabah, said Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun.

“We need to maximise the return of investment for every ringgit spent by being more selective in choosing the best marketing and promotion platform which saves cost and generate stronger returns,” he told reporters yesterday after officiating the seminar on Maximising Investments on Trade Shows organised by the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta).

In keeping with the changing trends in the tourism market, Masidi highlighted the ministry through the Sabah Tourism Board (STB) had intensified digital marketing to promote Sabah through social media platforms which was a quicker way to reach the target markets with better results at low cost.

“Our price rationalisation exercise has translated to better savings; for every ringgit spent last year, we gained back RM300,” Masidi said, adding among the measures include the cutting the cost of promotion and non-renewal of contract for trade representatives in Australia.

In response to the move, he said: “For me, it’s simple because if the market segment seems to be moving every year, then there is no need to spend additional money there.”

Sabah’s tourist arrivals has seen record tourist arrivals in 2016, according to Masidi, with an all-time-high of 3.427 million visitors, injecting RM7.25 billion tourist receipts into the state economy.

Gordon Yapp, General Manager of STB, noted the ministry-linked agency is intensifying digital marketing to promote Sabah through popular social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Weibo and Wechat, to reach targeted market overseas.

He said the strategy involves digital marketing on Sabah’s tourist attractions; for instance, short promotional videos, which can be generate a multiplier effect, generating millions of online viral hits reaching the target audience quickly.

“Our online marketing project started last year, it’s a strategy that its working very well as we connect quickly to an increasingly web savvy market,” Gordon said, adding the STB will also continue bringing travel agents to Sabah to view the state’s prized natural attractions.

Sabah Tourism’s move in improving cost-effectiveness of marketing received support from Dato Mohmed Razip Hasan, Malaysian Tourism Board Senior Director of International Promotion Division (America, Europe and Oceania).

“We are complimenting efforts to expand online presence through social media which provides simple, free content, fast and high impact unlike traditional media which can be costly,” he said, noting Tourism Malaysia will still encourage trade shows for reaching markets overseas.

“This seminar today is a guide for tourism players for maximising their returns on investments and having the right attitude when going to a trade show,” he said.

Moreover, he said Tourism Malaysia is also looking to increase collaboration with foreign airlines to visit Sabah apart from plans to expand to new markets in Russia and Eastern Europe.

“Sabah, by virtue of its geographical proximity with many countries, is a strong selling point which we can capitalise,” he said.

Meanwhile, Datuk KL Tan, MATTA Vice President of Inbound and Domestic, urged Sabah-based hotels and tour operators to join this year’s roadshow which is affordable, cost-effective which would provide them with exposure on emerging markets and guidance to realign marketing campaigns with Sabah Tourism and Tourism Malaysia plans.

This year, MATTA will be organising three roadshows to China starting with Shenzhen and Guangzhou; four roadshows each to India as well as ASEAN countries.

“The seminar will help tour operators to create better packages, the dos and don’ts, as well as how to secure business in international trade shows as well as emphasis on digital marketing,” he said.

Among those who attended the 2nd MATTA seminar held in the state capital include Robert Chong Chairman of MATTA Sabah Chapter, as well as tour operators and stakeholders in the tourism industry.

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