Smart Tourism – Travel meets tech in Malaysia

As Malaysia welcomes more foreign visitors, tech firms specializing in enhancing visitors’ stays are enjoying a moment in the spotlight. Malaysia’s Smart Tourism 4.0 scheme is meant to create convenience for travelers. Technologies such as tourism apps and social media play crucial roles in enriching this travel experience.

The Malaysian government plans to advance “Smart Tourism 4.0” by using technological innovations. Smart Tourism 4.0 aims to improve tourist experiences, boost Malaysia’s competitiveness, and promote ecotourism.

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Smart Tourism – Travel meets tech in Malaysia

Malaysia hopes to see a revival of its tourism industry after its reopening, which includes the recently renewed passage at the Singapore-Malaysia land border. However, due to the strict entry protocols, some tourists may still be hesitant to visit. To get approval to visit Malaysia, visitors must first sign up for the MySejahtera app and submit a health declaration form. In addition, some people returning from Malaysia may have to undergo lengthy periods of quarantine.

So what exactly is Smart Tourism 4.0?

As a result of Malaysia’s dedication to developing its own version of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the term “Smart Tourism 4.0” was born. The plan is intended to improve travelers’ experiences. This includes the use of various forms of electronic communication and information storage. Tourism apps and social media are two examples of how technology is enhancing the holiday experience.

Startups in the travel industry can capitalize on the current interest in “Smart Tourism” by introducing their products and services to the market.

  • LokaLocal is one company that has seen significant growth. LokaLocal was established in 2016 as a platform for connecting tourists with local partners who can arrange activities like guided group hikes and virtual reality experiences.
  • Tourplus, meanwhile, functions as an online travel marketplace that eliminates communication barriers by translating tour descriptions and guide fees.
  • Moovby, a peer-to-peer car-sharing marketplace, allows tourists to rent cars from locals as an alternative to Malaysia’s congested public transportation system.

Adapting to travel restrictions

When Malaysia’s tourism sector collapsed due to the pandemic, startups in the sector quickly forged new alliances. Virtual tours are an option for those who are unable to leave their homes, and LokaLocal has partnered with InvestKL, an agency under the Ministry of International Trade, to make this possible. Participants could “walk” through well-known locations like the Cameron Highland Butterfly Garden and the Gopeng Heritage House with this interactive experience. After normal transportation has resumed, these events will serve as advertisements encouraging tourists to visit the sites up close.

Meanwhile, Tourplus has shifted its attention to the domestic market. As the official Tourism Promotion Agency of Selangor, Tourism Selangor collaborated with Tourplus to create the Go Selangor app. Information on where to stay, how to get around, and what to eat is all available within the app. At the April 2022 signing ceremony between Tourism Selangor and TourPlus, Tourplus founder Rickson Goh said that the partnership “will be able to help the travel industry transform into digitalization 4.0 as well as assist local industry players by reviving the domestic tourism market so they are ready for post-COVID-19 travel demands.”

The growing popularity of ecotourism

Ecotourism is an essential component of Smart Tourism 4.0 because it encourages visitors to act in a responsible and sustainable manner when exploring new areas. This helps to preserve Malaysia’s natural heritage for future generations. Ecotourism is nothing new in Malaysia; in fact, a 2016 study commissioned by Tourism Malaysia found that the industry’s worth has been increasing by between 10% and 35% annually since it was first quantified.

Ecotourism’s rising popularity can be attributed to the public’s growing awareness of the need to protect the planet. During Expo 2020 in Dubai, Malaysia presented plans to redouble efforts to foster ecotourism by reopening Langkawi Island, providing nature-based travel packages, and offering community-led tours.

Positive outlook for travel tech companies in coming years 

As travel resumes, Malaysia’s tourism industry is gradually returning to its pre-pandemic level. Prior to the expansion, investors have written new checks to travel startups. Thanks to adjustments made during Malaysia’s lockdown, travel technology startups were able to secure funding and interested investors.

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