By IZZAT RATNA / Pic By ISMAIL CHE RUS
Malaysia plans to boost the country’s digital economy especially in the tourism sector, which is globally dictated by online bookings from flight tickets to hotel accommodations.
Ministry of Tourism and Culture deputy secretary general Haslina Abdul Hamid (picture) said Malaysia needs to be aligned with advanced technologies and the ministry will work with the digital industry to explore areas that could benefit stakeholders.
“The world is rapidly changing, particularly in the tourism industry. Tourists these days are more tech savvy,” she said at an event in Shah Alam yesterday.
She said in order for Malaysia to remain competitive in the hospitality and services industry, digital-based technology infrastructure and services are required.
“Today, almost the entire world has embraced cashless technology to make it more convenient for consumers, as well as travellers. Therefore, if your business is cash only, you are going to be left behind,” she said.
She also said Malaysia needs to boost the use of digitalisation for transactions, from about 30% presently in the country.
“Malaysia should enhance the country’s e-payment platform and move towards a cashless society like in China, South Korea and Japan which are also the tourism’s main markets,” Haslina said.
According to the ministry’s figures, the tourism sector contributed RM182.4 billion, or 14.8%, of the country’s gross domestic product in 2016. In 2017, the country received 25.9 million tourists.
Tourist receipts last year, however, only increased 0.1% to RM82.2 billion compared to RM82.1 billion in 2016.
The ministry aims to draw in about 36 million tourists with receipts projected to hit RM168 billion by 2020.
The strategic partnership between Visa Malaysia and I-Bhd will see the digitalisation of payment across i-City’s 72- acre (29.14ha) property development, which has a gross development value of about RM9 billion.
I-Bhd deputy chairman Datuk Eu Hong Chew said the alliance with Visa would provide additional value and improve the quality of services for local and foreign tourists in i-City in line with I-Bhd’s digitisation programme.