Malaysia’s Minister of Tourism and Culture has officially launched an initiative to boost Chinese visitor numbers through highly targeted marketing methods.

The Minister, YB Dato’ Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz, announced the Malaysia Smart Tourism 4.0 initiative on April 5 at Hotel Istana Kuala Lumpur, witnessed by hundreds of tourism industry players.

“This initiative is a key development and game-changer that will transform our tourism industry and take us to the next level,” stated the Minister.

In a study conducted by Monitor Deloitte, Smart Tourism was identified as a key thrust to greatly increase Malaysia’s tourism-based receipts, especially from the growing and high-value segment of free and independent travellers. The study indicated that Smart Tourism has the potential to grow Malaysia’s tourism-based receipts from the current US$25 bn to US$110 bn by 2030, a 4.4-fold increase.

Malaysia Smart Tourism 4.0 is an initiative that marks the first milestone in Malaysia’s 10-year tourism roadmap. The collaborative effort with Tencent Holdings, which is the 4th most valuable Internet company in the world, will provide a digital ecosystem for Malaysia to reach out to the 1.4 billion Chinese population utilising precision marketing methods.

This allows both current and new tourism industry players to implement digital technologies to enhance tourism offerings and improve tourist experiences. It is anticipated that productivity will improve and job opportunities suited to Malaysia’s youth will increase.

YB Dato’ Seri Nazri added that it was a timely initiative since there is an anticipated 1.8 billion people travelling the world by the year 2030, a huge portion of which are the Chinese tourists.

The Chinese made 130.5 million trips overseas last year, a 7% jump over 2016, while total spending increased by 5% to an estimated USD 115.3 billion. They accounted for more than a fifth of the money spent by outbound tourists, which is twice as much as the next biggest spender, the Americans. Recent reports forecast that 200 million tourists from China will be making outbound trips by the year 2020.

With Smart Tourism 4.0, there is an opportunity to grow Malaysia’s share of the China market to a potential of 8 million tourist arrivals in the year 2020.

The Minister said, “The future of the industry rests upon platforms such as Malaysia Smart Tourism 4.0, where every part of traveler’s journey automatically connects through technology. The Malaysia travel industry must change now to keep pace with the digital age.”

“With full participation from the private sector in the Malaysia Smart Tourism 4.0 initiative, we could affect a tipping point towards the dramatic growth of China arrivals to Malaysia,” he said.

He added, “This means, higher income revenue for the national economy, the creation of more job opportunities, the creation of new businesses, a huge opportunity for improved infrastructure and tourism services development and overall economic development.“