He said the agency had just entered into internet marketing and was planning on several programmes to capture the huge and untapped market, via such social networks.
"We want to go through community-based websites such as Facebook, Twitter and others. People spend a lot of time surfing internet and its influence is huge...social networks are becoming the favourite place to keep in touch and share experiences,
According him, Tourism Malaysia had already embarked on Web TV, banner advertisements in Yahoo, MSN and Google.
Facebook has 175 million members worldwide while Friendster has over 90 million. According to Compete.com which analyses web traffic, Facebook had 104 million visitors in April in the United States.
He said, greater promotion through the internet was one of the plans adopted by Tourism Malaysia, in the wake of the global economic slowdown and its affect on the travel and tourism industries.
Malaysia, fortunately, was not much affected by the crisis as the number of arrivals in the first four months showed positive growth as compared to last year, although neighbouring countries recorded reduced numbers, said Amirruddin.
"We are lucky visitors still see Malaysia as a safe place to visit, and some tourists who earlier wanted to visit Thailand, came to Malaysia after reading reports of demonstrations here.
"Our Singapore market is still strong and the people who wanted to go on long-haul are coming to our country," he said.
Despite that, Amirruddin said Malaysia had reduced its target of attracting 24 million tourists to 20 million this year, as it foresaw slower demand due to the economic crisis, adding that the current scare over the Influenza A(H1N1) virus could also have had some impact on travellers.
"We need to revive our strategy...we work best under pressure. We learnt from the 1997 financial crisis when tourist arrivals dropped to 5.5 million.
"...but with the introduction of the Malaysia Truly Asia campaign, it increased rapidly and went up to 22 million last year, while revenue jumped from US$4 billion to US$14 billion in the same period," he said.
Source : Bernama
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