Little did I know what was in store for me when I found that I was one of the winners of the Malaysiajao contest held by Tourism Malaysia and Blogadda.
I soon found out when I attended the MEGA FAM or the familiarisation trip organised by Tourism Malaysia to showcase its tourism facilities. 27 countries participated in this event with over 277 delegates hailing from countries as far as Argentina to those in the region were hosted. At a grand seminar held at the Royal Chulan Hotel in KL on 15th November 2014, we were treated to brief presentations, an entertainment program and all we were advised to do was
“ENJOY, RELAX AND SPEND AS MUCH MONEY AS YOU CAN” .
What is a FAM?
I soon found out what it was all about when I attended this FAM , the second biggest one this year which was special because it was also the launch of the 1Malaysia YES ( or One Malaysia Year End Sale)
Taking a leaf from neighbouring Thailand, the Ministry of Tourism was revamped from a dusty bureaucratic organisation to a vibrant Tourism Malaysia with the sole idea of developing Tourism, the third largest driver of the Malaysian economy after petroleum and agriculture generating an income of RM 65.4 billion in 2013. This has proved to be a wise step indeed because the industry has seen a remarkable growth in numbers since its first FAM in 2000 and every year the numbers keep increasing with 2013 seeing 25.7 million tourists.
Today Malaysia has 2 million tourists visitng annually and the sixth largest group of tourists come from India.
Well, apart from the fact that Malaysia is close to home, there are many reasons why it is indeed a great holiday destination as it has something for everyone.
Even before the plane lands at KL, you can see miles and miles of lush green palm growing in the land below you. And this rich tropical country with its forests and wildlife is a fascinating place for nature lovers who can enjoy nature parks in the city itself or go out into the interiors on Eco trails.
Exotic birds and animals like the proboscis monkey can be seen in their natural habitat while the Americana Periplanata remains a rare species.
Apart from the shared history of the Commonwealth nations, we Indians will have a lot to identify with in Malaysia. Malaysia is truly the melting pot of Asia and its multi cultural and multi ethnic society is quite similar to ours. With several of its people having roots from South India, there are pockets in various cities that are actually called Little India which transport you back to the Malabar or Coromandel coast.
The ethnic Chinese too have maintained their identity while integrating with the native population of Malays or the Bhumiputras. While there are some who have retained their ethnicity, there are populations of mixed ancestry like the Baba Nyonya (Chinese +Malay) or the Chindi ( Indian + Chinese ) or even someone who can trace his ancestry to all three ethnicities making him truly Asian.
Tourism has long since evolved from mere sightseeing to actually participating in death defying stunts likeparagliding, wind surfing, white river rafting and scuba diving.
For the not so adventurous who prefer getting their adrenaline pumping by merely watching, Malaysia hosted the F1 in March this year and and will the Formula E in November
Themed parks like the Butterfly park in KL, the Aquaria at Petronas Towers in KLCC, Legoland , LBT and Hello Kitty in Johore are just some of the places that make Malaysia a place for parents to unwind with their children.
Unbeknownst to many, KL is the world’s 4th best shopping destination after London, New York and Tokyo and shopping enjoys the second biggest share in tourist expenditure after accommodation.With huge shopping malls in the major cities and indigenous shopping too, Malaysia offers every retail consumer just the products he wants from high end luxe to affordable to plain dirt cheap.
Finally, Malays are a friendly welcoming people. Their warm equatorial climate which often has a cooling late afternoon shower makes it an all weather destination with something for some one.
So as I found out during the FAM, why not Malaysia?