‘Every tourist is a storyteller’

To promote tourism, there must be plenty of storytelling.

Malaysia’s Department of Information media and corporate communications division director, Amerjit Singh, emphasised on the need for authentic and credible storytelling to be shared with the rest of the world.

“Our uniqueness is our diversity. This is where we produce fascinating stories about the uniqueness of Malaysia,” said Amerjit.

“The public relations game has also changed in promoting Malaysia. We want to engage people. We want to connect with people. No more screaming and shouting (messages)… We need to entice people (to visit Malaysia). No more high-powered messages. It’s about engaging content.

“Every tourist is a storyteller.”

Amerjit said this during a webinar on Wednesday, organised by Asia Pacific University of Technology and Innovation. He also provided insights on public relations strategies in promoting Visit Malaysia Year, particularly during the period he served at the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry in 2014.

Malaysia fully opens its borders today. The country has been hit hard by the various lockdowns imposed since 2020 following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2020 alone, Malaysia lost over RM100 billion in tourism money. Pre-Covid-19, the tourism sector contributed close to 15 per cent to the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP).

Amerjit added that word of mouth continued to play a crucial role in getting local and foreign tourists to visit the various destinations in the country.

“You can have new media, television and radio, but word of mouth is important. Word of mouth carries a lot of weight.”

He stressed on the need to continuously engage with stakeholders, namely international and domestic tourists, local communities, the media, and local governments.

“They must be provided with updates and information (about a certain destination). Familiarisation trips are a good way for people to appreciate and understand the destination better.”

“When there is open, honest, and credible feedback, good or bad, there is a need to respond to it. When something is said, it must be done.”

He also stressed on the importance of data and how stakeholders must constantly evolve by producing and promoting innovative products and strategies.

“If there are shortcomings, we need to acknowledge them,” he added.

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