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ITB Berlin News 2018 - Review Edition

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24 EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

24 EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT HAS ALREADY COME UP WITH A NATIONAL PLAN, CALLED MALAYSIA ECOTOURISM PLAN 2016-2025. Dato’ Sri Abdul Khani Daud Deputy General Director (Promotion), Tourism Malaysia Malaysia 2019 Official Partner Country - The Countdown Has Begun Exclusive Interview - Dato’ Sri Abdul Khani Daud, Deputy General Director (Promotion) – Tourism Malaysia With the official “passing of the baton” from this year’s Official Partner – Mecklenburg Verpommern – and Malaysia – at the closing ceremony of ITB Berlin 2018, the countdown has thus begun for the Southeast Asian nation to be Official Partner Country 2019. We asked Dato’ Sri Abdul Khani Daud, Deputy General Director (Promotion) – Tourism Malaysia how this year’s show went… Everything went well this year. We had 152 participants in our stand in 74 organisations. Some are from the private sector, working here on B2B meetings. After ITB Berlin everyone will be looking forward to following up with the contacts made here for future promotion, especially towards Visit Malaysia 2020. We are gearing up for next year as well, as we are ITB Berlin’s official partner country. We have had a lot of discussion with ITB management here in Berlin, working on our visibility for next year, in terms of promotion during the event. As a partner, country, we have to prepare for our opening ceremony, in terms of what kind of image we portray to the world, as there will be a large number of international VIPs there from all over the world. So this year, it’s been a kind of planning phase for next year’s “big event”? Yes, in fact we have eleven state representatives here this year, and we have our NGOs, Malaysian Travel and Tour Operator associations here with us, and we have had discussions about the fact that next year we have to come together, to make sure that our presence for ITB Berlin 2019 is the best, for us to prepare for Visit Malaysia Year 2020. How important is tourism as part of Malaysia’s economy? Tourism is always a pillar of our economy – number five – contributing 82bn Ringgit in receipts (eds. approx. €17bn) and providing close to four million jobs. There are a lot of indirect benefits as well, in the hotel industry, transport and so on. When the Prime Minister announced the Visit Malaysia 2020 project, he also made it clear that the heart of our promotion will be ecotourism. We are therefore currently working on strategy and an action plan to get more visitors to come to Malaysia from 2020 and beyond. One of the main aspects of your promotion is ecotourism. What concrete things are being done by the government to underpin sustainable tourism? The Federal Government has already come up with a national plan, called Malaysia Ecotourism Plan 2016-2025. We have already identified 63 clusters of eco-sites that can be promoted as tourism attractions to the world. Currently, we have already identified six of these clusters that are ready to receive tourism. This is one of the things the government is doing to promote ecotourism, to protect our nature, to attract tourists and to experience these places. This is not only for the tourists, but also for our next generations. For instance, in Sabah, they have stopped virtually all new logging activities. Tourism income has already surpassed that of logging in Sabah, so logging is no longer a priority. Tourism is the key economic area now for Sabah. Also in Sarawak, they recently stopped or revoked logging licences for two companies, meaning no more logging in key parts of Sarawak. These are the good developments in these areas thanks to the State Governments there, making sure the ecosystem, the nature and the environment are protected for the next generation, and also for the international tourists to experience. And in turn, this has a strong positive economic impact. That’s why for Visit Malaysia 2020, the minister has already selected the tagline, Travel, Enjoy. Respect. (eds: the slogan of the UNWTO for the Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development). We want the tourists to come to Malaysia, to enjoy what ITB BERLIN NEWS • Wednesday 21 st March 2018 www.itb-berlin-news.com

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW 25 we have – the environment, the nature, the culture, the modern cities and facilities we have, but at the same time, protect and respect what the locals have, and together to preserve the nature and the culture, and make tourism sustainable for the future. It can be very surprising for visitors to find genuinely untouched nature, as one can see in your state parks. How much does this fact – of being able to find untouched nature – make the destination stand out from other nations in the region? Indeed, places like Gunung Mulu National park in Sarawak, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site, or Royal Belum, where we have requested UNESCO status. Even though it covers a surface of more than 500 sq km, Gunung Mulu is not visited by many international visitors. Last year, only 8,000 international visitors were recorded there. Belum also is untouched, with its Orang Asli aboriginal people. These are places we want the world to discover and explore, but of course, at the same time they need to be protected. So you’re not looking for mass tourism in these places? Of course. For those who appreciate the environment, these places are unique. Places like Mulu, Taman Negara or Belum are not mass tourism destinations like Kuala Lumpur or Penang or Malacca, where you can do a lot more things in the city. By the same token, these areas are great for families, even with small children, because the facilities are there to cater for them. At Mulu, there is a boardwalk directly from the hotel to the cave. Similarly, in Sipadan, there are only 120 permits to dive per day. This is to protect the environment from the possible effects of mass tourism. Just how important is the partnership with ITB Berlin as part of your Visit Malaysia 2020 campaign? We cannot organise Visit Malaysia 2020 without support from our industry partners worldwide. It’s our aim, in 2020, to receive 36-million arrivals worldwide. From there, it will generate 168bn Ringgit (eds. approx. €34bn) into our economy. So, partners are important. And ITB Berlin being the largest travel fair in the world, bringing all the B2B players for meetings here, it’s something we have to leverage. We have the opportunity to spread our news to over a hundred thousand trade visitors at next year’s show. And before that, we also have the chance to work with the organisers, Messe Berlin, to promote our destination through the next 12 months, in the run up to next year’s show. Then after that, ITB Berlin can use Malaysia’s partnership as a case study, talking about our destination all over the world, as well as to the thousands of media representatives coming into the show. These are things we will benefit from, by being the official partner country of ITB 2019 We met with Her Excellency at the closing ceremony of ITB Berlin 2018, and asked her how she is settling into Berlin. I arrived in Berlin in October, presented by credentials to the Federal President in November. I find the people in Berlin and the rest of Germany are very welcoming. Malaysia has very close trade relations with Germany, so every year our minister of international trade comes here to visit different cities. I have been in contact with officials at the Federal Foreign Office, the Ministry of Agriculture, and the Ministry of Economic Affairs. In the short time I have been here, I have been involved in the Asia Business Insights in Düsseldorf, where I participated in the Ambassadors’ Power Talk. There have been various meetings with the Asia Pacific Committee and we have been working on highlighting ASEAN, because by 2050, we expect ASEAN to be then fourth largest economy. While a lot of discussion is about China, there are also efforts to promote ASEAN, and Malaysia as a hub for the ASEAN region. You must be very happy about the new direct air link between Frankfurt and Kuala Lumpur, as Condor opens a service in November. Yes, very much. We look forward to that being a success, and that’s something we hope will be able to highlight Malaysia here. HE Sarah Al Bakri Devadason Malaysia’s Ambassador to Germany VIEWPOINT Malaysia’s New Ambassador to Germany – HE Sarah Al Bakri Devadason You seem very keen to promote Malaysia… Indeed, I am always open to visitors from the business community or the cultural side – people who would like to come to me at our Embassy to discuss or find out more about Malaysia. ITB Berlin is a mega-event – the biggest travel show in the world. Having Malaysia being the Official Partner Country next year – how do you feel about that, and how important is it for Malaysia? It’s very important. It’s an event we will really have to take advantage of as partner country. I have met many people in the past few days who are looking forward to seeing what it will be like when Malaysia is partner country. We have so much to share. The challenge will be to share as much as possible of the 14 states in Malaysia THE CHALLENGE WILL BE TO SHARE AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE OF THE 14 STATES IN MALAYSIA ITB BERLIN NEWS • Wednesday 21 st March 2018

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