A new RM5 million (US$1.2 million) tourism fund announced by the Malaysian government is set to provide a much-needed boost for private-sector players in their destination promotion efforts, as the country works towards 30 million tourist arrivals for Visit Malaysia Year 2020.
This is the first time that such a fund has been offered, and if it is well received by the private sector, it will likely be continued next year, Musa Yusof, director-general, Tourism Malaysia, revealed at a press conference last week.
Based on feedback during ITB Berlin earlier this year, Musa said some European operators had dropped Malaysia from their brochures due to a lack of demand. The low demand could be due in part to the cut in Tourism Malaysia’s advertising budget, resulting in low destination awareness in the market, he said.
The fund, offered by the Ministry of Finance, is a matching grant that can be used in promotional and marketing efforts â€“ such as participation in international and domestic tourism-related events â€“ geared towards wooing and increasing both international and domestic footfall to Malaysia.
The grant works on the basis of reimbursable financial assistance where eligible companies, such as accommodation operators, product operators, integrated resorts, or inbound agents, as well as travel, hospitality and shopping associations and community-based tourism projects, may claim 50 per cent of the actual cost of their promotional project or the maximum amount allowed for each project category.
Projects that are eligible for the reimbursement fall into three main categories: participation in travel fairs and exhibitions, organising of roadshows, and sales missions and business events.
Organisations participating in international or domestic travel trade and consumer events can claim up to RM5,000 per event, while participation in overseas equivalents allows up to RM15,000 in reimbursement per event.
As well, promotional programmes for business events in Malaysia can claim up to RM5,000 per event; or up to RM10,000 per event for overseas promotions.
To be eligible, companies must be registered and licensed in Malaysia, and have been in business for more than a year. Applications are to be submitted 21 days before the date of the programme/activity, and approved projects will receive the grant within 14 days, shared Musa.
A committee within Tourism Malaysia will evaluate applications, and approval will be given by the director-general of Tourism Malaysia or the deputy director-general of Tourism Malaysia.
A ceiling of RM200,000 has also been imposed on each grant recipient to ensure equal distribution of the fund. Entities which have accumulated claims from various projects totalling to RM200,000 will no longer be considered.
Inbound business events companies welcome the fund and are eager to get started on intensified sales and marketing efforts.
Adam Kamal, general manager, Tour East Malaysia, said the grant would help him double his company’s marketing efforts and participation in more international business events tradeshows, and allow him to “focus more on growing business events from (key markets) China and India”.
Prasanth Chandra, group CEO, Apollo Conferences, intends to use the grant to support stronger promotions in China for both business events and leisure. “By the end of this year, we also hope to open a sales office in Beijing,” he revealed.
Ally Bhoonee, executive director, World Avenues, expects the funding to help his team participate in Arabian Travel Market and World Travel Market, which have become expensive trade events to attend due to the weakened ringgit.