For Salina Salleh, a Senior Public Relations Director in Kuala Lumpur, nothing excites her more than switching off from stressful work pressures and taking off on her next holiday adventure.
Her holiday of choice is ‘glamping’ (a portmanteau for glamour camping) it up in style at her favorite destination, Tanah Aina, in Bentong, Pahang. But this wasn’t always the case for the globetrotter and frequent traveler.
“I used to love going abroad to immerse myself in new cultures and destinations. Nowadays, the best holiday for me is hassle-free travel, combined with lots of greenery, surrounded by the people I love.”
“I can get all of that and more, a mere two hours away from KL,” added Salina.
Youthful and social media savvy
Salina not alone among many Malaysians who are contributing to the rise in staycations and domestic tourism, with 221.3 million domestic visitors recorded in 2018, a growth of over 7.7 percent from the previous year. A total of 302.4 million trips were taken by domestic travelers last year, and the majority of which (at 40 percent) were by those between the ages of 25 to 39.
The growth in domestic travel is not due to lower costs alone. Malaysians are now more aware of the multitude of breathtaking scenery, entertaining activities, and even mysterious off-the-beaten-track experiences that they can enjoy right here at home.
Even the option of checking into luxury hotels around the city, for pampering, relaxing and unwinding, like a ‘tourist’, is becoming a trend now.
This is not just because it is a cheaper choice.
Lart Mohamed, an avid hiker and the founder of the outdoor and recreational company Green All’perto Adventures said, “It would be cheaper for us to organize a trip to Cambodia or Vietnam. However, we found that local trips are getting more popular with our clients.
“From conquering the Mulu Pinnacles, one of the most difficult hiking treks in the country, to just lounging on the beach in beautiful Redang. People don’t mind paying more, as long as they can enjoy the convenience of shorter travel time, minimal planning and still take Instagram-worthy photos to share with their friends.”
The growing awareness among young Malaysians, driven by pervasive social media use to research and show off travel adventures, is making young holidaymakers hungry for unique and authentic local experiences.
Growing local economies
As a result, industry players can create, offer and promote Malaysian destinations and attractions to an even bigger audience, improving local and national economies in the sector.
Airbnb, for example, introduced Airbnb Experiences to the country in November last year, offering hyperlocal activities, hosted by homegrown experts. These include packages like spending a day in the life of a batik painter followed by a traditional tiffin lunch.
According to its General Manager for Southeast Asia, Hong Kong and Taiwan, Mark Orgill, the move has enabled the company to generate greater economic opportunities for local businesses and communities across Malaysia. In fact, Airbnb’s host and guest community-generated approximately RM3 billion in estimated direct economic impact in Malaysia last year.
No doubt, as Visit Malaysia 2020 looms, the country will be welcoming a flurry of tourists from around the world. But at the same time, Malaysians too will continue to discover their own country, with an endless wealth of beauty, heritage, and cultural vibrancy to be found.