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Branding boosts tourism image

MANY ATTRACTIONS: German-speaking tour guides a plus point, says travel expert erman tour operators want Malaysia to be as popular as Thailand and Bali Malaysia tourismWHILE Malaysia does have  attractive attributes as a tourist destination, its image abroad can be boosted  by creating brand awareness. German tour operators who offer Malaysia in their tour programmes are upbeat about the attractiveness of the country to German tourists, but they want the country to be as well-known as Thailand and Bali. Creating brand awareness could improve the country's tourism profile, said German tour operators who sell tour packages for Southeast Asia. Airways Travel GmbH, a Frankfurt-based travel and tour operator, has been selling tour packages for Asian countries to Germans and German-speaking nationalities, such as Swiss and Austrians, for nearly three decades. It was declared the winner of the Malaysian Tourism Award, given by the Tourism Ministry, for 2010/2011. Airways Travel marketing and product manager Juergen Anding, an expert on Malaysia and Southeast Asian destinations, said Malaysia could attract a greater number of tourists, particularly from Germany, Switzerland and Austria, by having a public information campaign. "Despite its picturesque landscape, pristine sea waters and white, sandy beaches, along with natural beauty and cultural diversity, Malaysia is, unfortunately, not that well-known as other destinations in the region. "If its image can be polished, it can become one of the great tourist destinations. "Besides catering to German, Swiss and Austrian nationals, we also offer packages to Malaysians living in Germany. "Unlike other Westerners, German tourists prefer to travel individually rather than in groups. "We have contacts with some 250 hotels in Malaysia. Most of our tours are organised with Malaysia Airlines, which operates five flights a week to Frankfurt. "However, demand for plane seats can exceed supply, particularly during the holiday seasons, such as Easter and Christmas, as well as the summer holidays, when Germans like to travel. "We then use Singapore Airlines, Emirates and Thai Airways for Malaysia-bound passengers, giving them a stopover at the national hub of the airline concerned." Anding noted a shift in the preferences of German tourists, who, in the past, could not resist sunny weather and beaches, but now were more inclined towards nature and culture. While many Germans still visit Langkawi, they are also seeking nature and cultural attractions in Sabah and Sarawak. Anding said German tourists had expressed the need to have German-speaking tour guides. "If Malaysia can provide German-speaking guides, it can attract much greater traffic from Germany and German-speaking countries. "Though English is spoken by many Germans, there are also those who do not understand English enough and will feel much more comfortable with German-speaking guides." Anding added that Malaysia had good natural parks that were lacking in other Southeast Asian destinations. However, he said, because they were not well known, the country would do well to launch a campaign to educate the public. Managing director of Airways Travel, Anil Kumar, echoed similar sentiments. Kumar said that while Malaysia's tourism attributes were "excellent", the country's profile as a destination needed to be sharpened. "This should be done in a continuous manner, not just one time." Bernama Source: http://www.nst.com.my/nation/general/branding-boosts-tourism-image-1.261326

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