The drama that ensued following the new design and campaign logo for Visit Malaysia Year 2020 had netizens complaining and claiming that it was compiled from various stock images rather than being a completely original design. Naturally, it is understood that with human nature, changes will always be met by protests of varying reasons. In fact, there are many of us, expats too, that rather like the newly selected design which captures the national bird, a hornbill; national flower, the hibiscus; and local edible fern, ‘paku pakis‘.
However, we are less enthused with the tag line being changed to ‘Visit Truly Asia Malaysia 2020‘ which sounds a little convoluted and jumbles the words of the country’s established slogan ‘Malaysia, Truly Asia‘. It is not clear why this was thought to be an improvement over the original phrase, and it would have made more sense to simply say ‘Visit Malaysia, Truly Asia in 2020’. Going back to the newly changed tag line, it would also have made more sense to just add punctuation of either a comma, or a colon so it would read: ‘Visit Truly Asia, Malaysia’ or ‘Visit Truly Asia: Malaysia.’
A few years ago a very clever copywriter created ‘Malaysia, Truly Asia‘ which was a brilliant choice as Malaysia is one of the few countries which has such a sizeable representation of three very diverse Asian cultures being Malay, Chinese, and Indian, not to mention the indigenous people who have their own cultures, beliefs, and lifestyle. Malaysia offers international visitors an amazing selection of cultures, festivals, foods and local experiences to observe and enjoy. Somehow the slogan ‘Visit Truly Asia Malaysia‘ does not seem to send the same message. In fact, it’s not clear why it was felt that there was a need to change the wording of such a successful slogan, which many people have come to associate the country with.
On top of this, it seems very late in the day to recreate a winning slogan with the apparent absence of funds and marketing campaigns to promote the event, seems like a hugely wasted opportunity. You usually want to start promoting a major event like ‘Visit Malaysia Year‘, at least a year in advance so travel agents and the general public have all the information well ahead of making travel plans.
Given the major changes which have occurred and are still happening, it would seem that ‘Visit Malaysia Year 2020‘ would be an superb opportunity to invite overseas tourists to come and experience the new Malaysia, and support the country’s effort to get back on its feet. The resident expat community would seem like an obvious choice to include in the general marketing efforts, however, we have heard nothing from the Ministry to indicate they want any support in this area.
Malaysia’s tourism arrivals have hardly moved in the last 10 years which is very sad particularly when tourism can contribute so much to the country’s GDP growth. Neighbouring country Singapore, which is known to be much more expensive, and smaller, has seen a steady growth in visitors over the last eight years. To the north, Thailand, which has certainly had its share of problems, has achieved amazing success for their efforts in marketing their country well.
Growth in Tourism Arrivals from 2010 to 2018
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Clearly something isn’t working given how much Malaysia has to offer, with the added benefit of a weaker ringgit that currently makes it a very attractively priced destination. The Ministry of Tourism, and its marketing arm Tourism Malaysia, have had their share of challenges, and there are differing views on what went wrong and why their efforts have not been more successful. The total numbers have been negatively impacted by a slowdown in arrivals from Singapore, which was the major source of visitors, but the problem seems bigger than that. Given their limited marketing funds and recent slow growth, it’s not at all certain their tourist arrivals target of 30 million people will be achieved next year.
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