LANGKAWI: The young increasingly become an important feature in Malaysia's tourism ambitions as 90% of the online social media content shared among the young, is about travel and food, said Deputy Culture, Arts and Tourism Minister Muhammad Bakhtiar Wan Chik.
Therefore, the authorities need to position the country well on the social media sphere, said Bakhtiar.
To achieve such aims, the ministry together with relevant authorities are reaching out to the young to expose them to the world of travel by bringing industry players nearer to schools and higher learning institutions.
There are 3.15 billion users of social media as of now, namely the Big Three of Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, Bakhtiar said after opening the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Young Symposium recently.
Bakhtiar said that the young are invaluable assets for tourism, especially with Malaysia's desire to tap the promising sector more to propel economic growth.
He said that tourism contributes 14.9% to the gross domestic product of the country and it represents a strong foreign currency exchange earner.
He also spoke about empowering the rural community to take part in tourism, saying they can join the present list of 3,000 households, who are members to the national homestay programme.
“They can earn additional income as hosts to our homestay programme”.
He said the ministry is also keen to work with schools to train teachers as cultural officers so they can impart to students about the country's rich and diverse culture and performing arts.
Malaysia needs to showcase its unique brand of arts and culture, especially on the diversity elements, Bakhtiar said.
Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) chief executive officer Yap Lip Seng told theSun that the private sector needs to define how to gauge feedback from the media.
“Does the likes and positive comments translate to actual revenue for the hospitality industry. We need to gauge this and come out with effective mechanism to understand the full impact of social media”.
According to Yap, the travel trade's presence on the social media has eroded over time due to the lack of fresh content and the inability of the community to constantly update their profile, products and services.