Hidden gems, untold stories can draw tourists, says minister

The Sungai Pandan waterfall in Kuantan. Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Nancy Shukri says now is the perfect time to experience domestic travel. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Nancy Shukri has urged state authorities, local councils and community leaders to help boost domestic tourism by connecting travellers to “hidden gems and untold stories” in their areas.

Nancy said there was a growing interest in domestic tourism, and with restrictions on international travel, now was the perfect time for people to get to know Malaysia “like they never have”.

“We are blessed to live in such a diverse nation, rich in cultural traditions, history and biodiversity. Behind all of this is a story just waiting to be told,” she told FMT on the sidelines of an event on Monday.

“No one knows these stories more than the respective communities. Many know of the main attractions the country has to offer but there is still so much more to see and experience.”

Nancy Shukri

Nancy, who had a dialogue with bloggers and social media influencers, said she was thankful that these travel enthusiasts had taken it upon themselves to promote the various attractions in the country.

Some, she said, had spoken of their desire to see and experience new things so that they could share the stories tied to these places and communities.

“We hear them, and we are looking at how we can facilitate that process.

“One way we can do this is if we find ‘local champions’ in our midst who are immersed in their areas and communities.”

Such local champions, Nancy said, would be a resource to media outlets, travel magazines, bloggers, social media influencers and interests groups.

“They can tell them the stories, traditions and practices in the area because ultimately that is what people want to learn and experience.”

State tourism agencies, local councils and even elected representatives, she said, could help in this process by identifying local champions and connecting them to the media, bloggers and social media influencers.

“These are people with hundreds and thousands of active followers and readers who are themselves looking for new experiences.”

She said drawing people to these new experiences meant opening up new economic opportunities for the states and locals.

“Now is the time for us to leverage every advantage we have to save the tourism industry and the millions of Malaysians who depend on it for a living.

“I urge all state tourism authorities, local councils and elected representatives to join us in this mission,” she said.

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