AVIATION INTERVIEW WITH MOHAMMAD ZAIM MOHAMMAD NASHIR
Acting General Manager of Tourism Selangor
Mohammad Zaim, with his accounting background, finds the tourism sector to be interesting and very challenging after joining Tourism Selangor. He had started his career as an auditor before moving on to become a finance officer in a property development company and later in an oil and gas company. The 34-year-old wants to position Selangor, Malaysia’s most developed state with the highest gross domestic product of RM321,069 million in 2018, as the country’s preferred destination and
make its tourism sector stand out in terms of investment, product offerings and services.
How long have you been involved with tourism in Selangor and when were you appointed as Acting General Manager?
I have been with Tourism Selangor for almost five years now after joining in 2015. Prior to this, I was its Finance and Administration Manager. I was appointed to my current position in March 2019.
What are the main challenges in promoting tourism in Selangor as the state government’s tourism arm?
Sustainability is one of our main concerns. While ecotourism, agrotourism, sports tourism, medical tourism and cruise tourism are significant contributors to Selangor’s sustainable tourism, we need to come up with initiatives on how to protect or legalise our product offerings, ensuring that they comply with the regulations.
A step in this direction is Selangor’s tourism purification programme (Program Pemurnian Pelancongan Selangor or P3S in short) launched earlier this year to identify illegal products in the market and assist operators to obtain a proper license to run their business. We kickstarted P3S with the Hulu Selangor district council on 8 July and will proceed next with the Kuala Selangor district council and Petaling Jaya City Council. Sustainable tourism calls for low impact on our natural environment and local culture. Looking at attracting tourists to visit all the nine districts in Selangor, we work closely with the state government to ensure that the state’s tourism products are developed and preserved in each district. At the same time, we also make sure that the benefits derived from tourism are cascaded down to the grass roots level.
What do you notice about the current market’s demands?
Tourism market surveys show that travellers are more interested to visit new tourist destinations. Tour operators are receiving requests for unique once-in-a-lifetime experiences from travellers. This is becoming more common among the millennials who are keen to explore the world and share their stories with others.
Additionally, ‘instagrammable’ destinations that have the potential to go viral on social media make it easy for us to market our tourism products.
What are some initiatives undertaken by Tourism Selangor this year to increase tourists to the state?
Under the State Budget Planning for 2019, Tourism Selangor has identified potential ecotourism areas such as Kuala Selangor, Sabak Bernam and Hulu Selangor besides growth opportunities in new and emerging markets such as Russia, Japan and Taiwan.
We are also looking at increasing accommodation capacity in Selangor and have specialised training programmes for the locals to become recognised as the “local community host” and “story teller” of our local places, heritage and culture to visitors and tourists.
Tourism Selangor has developed a global marketing initiative to support these promotional activities and increase their awareness both locally and internationally. #TakeMeAnywhere, our new promotion campaign and fresh branding exercise, uses digital marketing and social media to reach a wider audience.
Other initiatives complementing this campaign include introducing new products, corporate service responsibility-based tourism related events and international roadshows. Markets we have earmarked include Australia, China, India and European countries such as Germany.
What sort of tourist arrivals and receipts are Tourism Selangor targeting for 2019 and 2020?
Our target tourist arrivals for 2019 is 7.7 million, up from RM7.23 million in 2018, while receipts are expected at RM5.64 billion. As at June 2019, we have received 3.48 million tourist arrivals and are confident of achieving our target for the remaining of the year. For 2020, we are targeting 7.9 million tourist arrivals and total receipts of RM5.8 billion.
Visit Sepang 2020 was announced earlier this year in conjunction with the country’s Visit Truly Asia Malaysia 2020 campaign. Why was this district selected to be the focus for next year?
Besides its sightseeing attractions, Sepang is also known for its ecotourism, agrotourism, education tourism, culture and heritage. It is also an international sports and event venue besides housing the KL International Airport.
What are the plans and major events drawn up for Visit Sepang 2020? How will they complement the country’s campaign next year?
Tourism Selangor, in close collaboration with the Sepang Municipal Council, has drawn up a comprehensive plan to further strengthen the state’s tourism industry.
Our good relationship with the local tourism players such as travel agencies, airlines and hoteliers has enabled us to introduce tour packages featuring various attractions in Sepang. We also initiated tie-ups with international travel agencies to launch special travel packages based on market demand.
Through our campaigns, “Discover Selangor, Heart of Malaysia” and #TakeMeAnywhere, we hope to raise awareness and market demand, and subsequently create a benchmark for quality tourism products and services in the state.
How do you see Selangor’s tourism industry transform into in five years’ time?
As one of the most developed states in Malaysia, I believe Selangor will continue to remain popular and will be standing tall among other developed states catering to tourists’ needs and offering world-class facilities.
What are your hobbies and what is your dream destination?
Football and swimming. I was the captain of Tourism Selangor futsal team where we emerged champion in this friendly game held among the government-linked companies in Selangor earlier in May. If time permits, I would like to travel to Istanbul in Turkey to explore its rich culture and architecture.