Saturday, August 27, 2005

Aussie tourist flow to Sabah not affected

Kota Kinabalu: Contrary to initial fears, the move by Australia's Qantas Airways to end its direct flights to Sabah in April this year has not affected the flow of Aussie tourists to the State.

Australia Tourism's Regional Manager for South and South East Asia, Maggie White, said this is because of the heavy promotion by Royal Brunei which includes Sabah as part of the package.

Deputy Chief Minister-cum-Tourism and Environment Minister Tan Sri Chong Kah Kiat had earlier also opined that the Qantas decision would have no bearing on Australian visitors to the State, saying other airlines would act to fill the void.

White also said Sabahans represented about eight to nine per cent of the 166,831 Malaysians who visited Australia last year, adding this was an increase by seven per cent compared to 2003. The growth is expected to maintain over the next 10 years, meaning that Malaysia will continue to be a significant market for Australia, she revealed.

"As the second largest source of arrivals into Australia from South East Asia, Malaysia is an extremely important market for Australia," she said at the presentation of Aussie Specialist status - an award from the country's tourism industry - to two East Malaysian travel agents based in Sabah at Sutera Harbour and Spa Friday.

Tourism Australia's Malaysia Manager, Yeong Yin Cheng, and its Public Relations Manager, Hannah Abisheganaden, were among those present.

"Tourism Australia wants to foster this growth and has increased its marketing spend in this market by 56 per cent this year to help keep Australia in the minds of Malaysians," said White, who is based in Singapore.

The bulk of that investment is being spent on implementing this new brand around the world, she added, part of a global re-branding exercise for Australia.

She said the campaign in Malaysia consists of a number of elements, including television and cinema commercials across Peninsular Malaysia, an online campaign on major Malaysian portals, participation in major travel shows like Matta, Malaysian Airlines Travel Fair as well as the development a reality TV show with a private broadcasting company in Malaysia.

The TV/cinema commercials include a show called "My Australia Challenge" that feature six young Malaysians sent to Australia to team up with young Aussies and compete in a series of exciting challenges and adventures across the Kangaroo country.

It has been well received, said White. "We have also been working with our State Tourism Offices to create a series of packages called 'The Best of Australia'. These are land deals for self drive and family consumers and the package includes the best city and country experiences each state has to offer," she added.

Tourism Australia will continue to work closely with our airline and travel trade partners to market and promote the destination, she assured.

"We will continue to recruit and develop the Aussie Specialist Programme (ASP) where participants are trained online to promote and develop Australia as a holiday destination," she said, adding the Aussie Specialists will provide consultation and value-add to the consumers of Australian holidays.

White said there were 114 front line agency staff enrolled in the ASP in Malaysia in July with 68 fully qualified. Two of the ASP agencies are based at Kota Kinabalu in Sabah, including First Choice Travel and Power Tours, while another four in Kuching, Sarawak.

"We will continue to refresh and introduce new products and experiences to suit the diverse needs of travellers to Australia," she said, hoping that the new brand campaign would attract more Malaysians to see Australia in a different light.

White, meanwhile, said Tourism Australia is concentrating on the Malay market. "We are now looking at the Malay market. We are working on the important wants and concerns of the Malay peoples when they travel overseas, of which the two main are restaurants serving Halal food and a place for them to pray in the country they are staying."

They found this from a survey.

Courtesy of Daily Express

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