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KUALA LUMPUR (May 8, 2012): Social media and bloggers must be given all the space they need to progress as they are agents of change especially in the tourism industry, Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said today.
“Soon the days of a structured tourism industry, with its traditional marketing and advertising, will be over.
“The 21st century has been completely transformed by social media, and we need to ensure we use it to bring the tourism industry forward,” she said in opening the first International Tourism Bloggers Conference and Awards 2012.
More than 10,000 people voted online for the 342 nominees in 16 categories. Ng said many Malaysians were quickly becoming tech-savvy, with 12 million people connected to the internet, compared with 20,000 in 1995.
“The aim is to have 75% of the population connected and using new media by 2015.
“With democratisation of information and speed of communication today, we need to ensure people are connected and that bloggers are talking about us if we want to continue doing well as a tourist destination.”
Last year, the ministry spent US$600,000 (RM1.8 million) on digital marketing and branding for six tourism event campaigns, drawing flak from various quarters, who said the expenses were unnecessarily high.
Ng, however, said the decision to turn to social media had yielded positive results.
“The public need to understand that advertising in social media, such as on Facebook and Google, costs money, and even then Malaysia spent much less on social media advertising than other countries did.
“The Cuti-Cuti 1Malaysia Facebook page now has nearly 500,000 fans with 90% of them aged below 35 years, indicating its success in branding Malaysia as a tourist destination,” she told the press after the opening ceremony.
Malaysia is ranked the ninth most visited country by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation, with about 24.7 million visitors last year. The ministry is targeting 36 million visitors yearly by 2020 and receipts as high as US$1 billion (RM3 billion) per week.
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