According to a study conducted by Tourism Malaysia, one of the country’s biggest draws for tourists is its rich culture and diversity. Historical walking tours, cultural events, and traditional arts and performances are among the activities that attract visitors to the country.
Muhammad Bakhtiar Wan Chik, Malaysia’s Deputy Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture said: “With global trends pointing towards experiential tourism as a preferred way to travel, tourists want to experience a destination that offers rich cultural heritage and great creative expressions from the local community.”
Mr. Bakhtiar announced that in conjunction with Visit Malaysia Year 2020 (VMY2020), Tourism Malaysia would be organizing 198 exciting cultural activities for foreign visitors.
The Visit Malaysia Year 2020 campaign is an initiative designed to attract more tourists to the country by highlighting its diverse culture and marketing itself as one of Asia’s must-visit destinations. Malaysia aims to bring in 30 million international visitors in 2020.
Tourism Malaysia has launched several initiatives to promote the nation’s history and culture. It is hoped that these initiatives will attract international travelers looking for authentic local experiences.
One example of this is the recently launched Kuala Lumpur (KL) Heritage Food Trails package. Combining a walking tour of the Malaysian capital with sampling local cuisine, these packages take visitors into the heart of the historic Kuala Lumpur neighborhoods of Kampung Baru, Petaling Street, and Brickfields.
There are also a number of exciting cultural events in the calendar for Visit Malaysia 2020, which Tourism Malaysia is keen to promote.
The East Coast Craft Textile Festival (Jan 23–Feb 2) allows visitors to watch and participate in traditional Malaysian crafts, such as batik painting and songket weaving. It celebrates the 101st anniversary of the Batik Craft Industry in Kelantan.
The International Aborigines and Indigenous Arts Festival (Aug 3–Aug 9) will feature all kinds of arts, performances, workshops, exhibitions, and stalls from Malaysia’s various indigenous people. The event will celebrate indigenous cultures from around the world.
The Malaysian Games Festival (Sept 25-Sept 27) showcases a variety of authentic Malaysian sports and competitions, from Kabaddi to arm-wrestling to a “sarong run”.
Malaysian cultural performances highlighting aspects of the nation’s heritage will be held twice a month at the main railway station, KL Sentral, in collaboration with the National Department for Culture and Arts. This is being promoted under the name “VMY2020 Happenings@KL Sentral”.
Mr. Bakhtiar added that he would “like to urge more industry players and operators in the travel and tourism ecosystem to come forward and join us in ensuring a successful VMY2020 campaign.”
Tourism Malaysia is working on a number of measures to help foreign travelers visit and get around the country as easily as possible.
Mr. Bakhtiar stated that a reliable transport system was key to helping visitors make the most of their time in Malaysia.
To that end, the Express Rail Link (ERL) service (which connects Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA), including Terminal 2 (klia2) to KL Sentral Station in the city center) and Rapid KL (the main public transport provider in Kuala Lumpur) plan to introduce a joint KL Travel Pass for tourists.
Bakhtiar stated this pass would cover: “airport transfer and two-day unlimited rides on LRT [light rail transit—similar to trams], MRT [mass rapid transit—metro/subway] and KL Monorail lines to cater to tourists’ travel needs.”
Another measure to facilitate tourism is the Transit Without Visa (TWOV) initiative, which is being introduced for nationals of Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. This will allow travelers from these countries to have a stopover in Malaysia for up to 120 hours (5 days) without having to obtain a visa. This is subject to certain conditions, so it is important to check visa requirements before booking a trip.
The TWOV will allow travelers to take advantage of their stopover to see parts of Malaysia. Mr. Bakhtiar mentioned that Tourism Malaysia plans to offer such travelers package deals to tour cities like Kuala Lumpur and Selangor in less than 5 days.
Malaysia has a wealth of historical sites and a diverse cultural heritage and with all the schemes laid out in the VMY2020 campaign, this year offers a great opportunity to experience them all.