Three Tourism & Culture Ambassadors of Malaysia were delighted to share their plans to restart Malaysia’s tourism industry at the international level as they are optimistic to bring in more arrivals to Malaysia.
The ambassadors were appointed on 1st June 2021, effective for two years, namely Dato’ Haji Chef Ismail Ahmad for the gastronomy segment, Datuk Lee Jin Bok for the South Korean market, as well as Mr. Kabir Khan Mohamad Reaz for the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States of America (USA) markets. At their meeting session with the Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, YB Dato’ Sri Hajah Nancy Shukri in Kuala Lumpur on 17th May 2022, the ambassadors discussed their upcoming plans to promote Malaysia in the post-pandemic era.
Malaysia’s beloved celebrity chef, Dato’ Chef Ismail, on the other hand, has been actively promoting Malaysia’s authentic cuisine globally through various efforts amid the recent pandemic, including a collaboration with a Korean YouTube channel, Blimey, as well as personal cooking classes with the Association of Spouses of Heads of Diplomatic Missions Malaysia (SOHOM).
“The idea of working closely with SOHOM came to me three years ago, and I’m truly grateful that we managed to resume the gastro diplomacy programme this year. Due to the encouraging response by the members, the association has also agreed to make it an annual event. In the meantime, I am preparing for a five-country roadshow across Europe, where I will be working closely with embassies in Germany, Serbia, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Hungary,” shared Dato’ Chef Ismail.
On the other hand, Datuk Lee Jin Bok, Chairman of Technology Infotech Lee Sdn Bhd, Vice Chairman of the World Federation of Korean Chambers of Commerce, and Executive Advisor for the Overseas Business Division of Daemyung Group, is known as the “bridge connecting South Korea and Malaysia”, especially for Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, & Exhibitions (MICE) segment.
Sharing his plans for the near future, Datuk Lee is forecasting an increase in international arrivals, particularly the South Koreans, in 2023, after the easing of border restrictions, including leisure tourists, business travellers, and golfers. He added: “In the meantime, I will be organising the grand opening of the Korea-Malaysia Economic and Cultural Exchange Association (KMEC) in Malaysia this 23rd May.”
Mr. Kabir, a Penang-born, world-renowned magician and mentalist, who is also recognised as “one of the new mentalists in the world” by The Leading Institution of Magic and Performing Arts, McBride Magic & Mystery School in Las Vegas, is ready to host long-haul tourists again.
“During my shows across Europe, the UK, and the USA, you can see that the audience is very much interested to know about Malaysia. However, certain markets listen differently, hence the correct strategies need to be in place to promote Malaysia internationally. What I plan to do to attract these long-haul tourists is by creating value-for-money packages, where they get to enjoy several destinations for the price of one,” said Mr. Kabir.
“What we have to put into consideration is that we are coming out of a pandemic. It’s a reset in tourism which gives us a lot of opportunities to come up with new approaches. As a co-owner of the Atmosphere 360 Restaurant in KL Tower, 90% of our customers were tourists during pre-pandemic. This shall be resumed where visitors will not only enjoy the culinary experience, but the long-lasting bond and friendship through our hospitality, and of course our suggestions of different attractions suited to their interests,” he added.
Dato’ Seri Nancy also expressed her gratitude to the ambassadors during the meet: “Despite the limitations caused by the pandemic, our ambassadors have still managed to continue with their promotional efforts through various means. I hope that this will continue as we move forward and come up with more creative efforts that can capture the hearts of our prospective visitors while showcasing Malaysia to the world.”