Tourism not only makes a person visit a new place and learn interesting information about the site but also offers a chance for people to relax and appreciate nature. Most parts of Asia have had a good reputation as good tourists’ destination. Overall, tourists visit countries in Asia for shopping and medical tourism. However, people especially from the west are not aware of the great natural sceneries in the beautiful Malaysian Borneo region (Tourism Malaysia, 2013). The region’s diverse culture and sites should top the list of any tourist from the West who wants to have a once in a lifetime safari. Nature provides vast varieties of plants, animals, and rocks among other resources. Tourists from the West should choose the Malaysian Borneo region as their best destination, and the marketing plan will inform people about the areas of interest.
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Why a Tourist Should Consider the Area
Malaysia is one of the world’s best tourism destinations. Currently, it is ranked position 11 worldwide. It also takes position 2 in vast Southeast Asia. Malaysia can be viewed as two countries in one which is divided by the massive South China Sea (Lo, Mohamad, Songan & Yeo, 2012). One of the two regions is Peninsula which has numerous cities, some cool islands, and tea plantations. The other region is Malaysian Borneo which is famous for jungles, various tribes, and peaks. It is also a favorite place for divers. In fact, the government of Malaysia has embarked on multiple projects in an effort to improve tourism in the country. As a result of government investment and support, travel opportunities have been arranged and enhanced. The tourism sphere forms the third major earner of foreign exchange (Tourism Malaysia, 2013).
Different means of transport are available for all the visitors to Borneo, including rail, road, and air. These modes of transport are not only efficient and convenient but also affordable. Moreover, all tourism destinations are accessible. One would be amazed to find good road networks even in remote areas. If a person wants to visit rural areas, the railway offers the best mode of transport as everybody can view the panoramic countryside.
Malaysian Borneo is also an excellent shopping destination. Rarely do tourists return to their countries without a new item. There is something interesting for everyone (Popescu & Corbos, 2011). Internet connectivity is ubiquitous within the country, and one can download maps for various destinations. People in the country have embraced technology, and thus tourists can monitor their jobs and businesses online or communicate with their family members while still having their vocation.
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Role of Public Relations, Publicity, Promotions, and Marketing Techniques
The body in charge of managing tourism in the country is Tourism Malaysia which is also known as Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board (MTPB). Among the marketing strategies used by the government, there is a marketing campaign called “Malaysia, Truly Asia.” The campaign has brought over 7.4 million tourists since its inception in 1999 (Popescu & Corbos, 2011). These statistics show that other tourists from all over the world liked the places as some visited the country over and over again. Overall, tourists’ numbers have grown tremendously in recent years. 27,437,315 tourists visited the country in 2014, accounting for an increase of 6.7 percent (Popescu & Corbos, 2011). People travel to the country for leisure especially during the monsoon which are months between November and February. At this time, visitors outnumber locals in islands such as Tioman (Benur & Bramwell, 2015).
The government and other bodies market the country as an excellent destination for medical tourism. Tourists visit the country mainly for medical treatment. In 2014 alone, 641,000 foreign patients visited the country (Benur & Bramwell, 2015). Such high number shows that the medical department in Malaysia is well established, and thus every tourist should not worry about his or her health while in the country. This achievement is due to the various efforts by private and public hospitals marketing their advanced health facilities in an attempt to boost medical tourism. MTPB has also advertised various natural sites within the country and the neighboring countries, which has promoted local and regional tourism. Nevertheless, much still needs to be done to market the region internationally. The government has spent money in an effort to market the sites found in the area, but the increase in income due to marketing is much more than the finances allocated.
Objectives and Goals for Measuring Success of Tourism and Tourism Marketing in the Area
For the region to be considered an excellent tourist destination, it has to have an appropriate political climate, sound economic policies, and favorable weather at the time of tourists’ visit. The success of tourism will be determined by the number of tourists who visit the region. If the number of visitors is low, tourism sphere is not successful and needs improvement. Therefore, a good marketing program should be focused on describing the best sites found in the region. It should also ensure that tourists get satisfaction from their money spent and that they enjoy every second of their visit (Kasim & Scarlat, 2015).
Feasibility of the Marketing Program in Relation to the Target Market
Europe and America are known to have the highest number of tourists in the world. Many tourists go round the world in search of a natural environment and cool climate especially during harsh climatic conditions in their countries. The primary target market for the marketing plan will be people living in these countries although it will also accommodate people from other parts of the world. Furthermore, Malaysian Borneo region has many natural scenes (Kasim & Scarlat, 2015). They are likely to satisfy customers who want to get the best from nature. Thus, the marketing plan will evaluate how to describe the natural resources in Borneo for potential tourists in the West and convince them to visit the places.
Events and Venues in Borneo
Mount Kinabalu is recommended to any tourist who wants to try mountain climbing. There are a number of reasons that make it a safe destination for tourists. Mount Kinabalu stands at 4096 meters and has two long rivers passing through it; they are known as Rajang River and Kinabatangan River. The government protects the mountain as Kinabulu Park which is a heritage site. It prides itself as being the highest mountain in the Malay Archipelago and also in Malaysia. It is ranked position 20 in the world in the list of most prominent mountains in the world, which means it is a perfect tourist destination for the year 2017 (Kumar, Loganathan, Patel & Kumar, 2015). The mountain also includes the Kinabalu montane alpine meadows ecoregion. Tourists travel to view the mountain and climb it and also to observe the surrounding environment which is exquisite.
The surrounding environment has over 5,000 species of plants. These plants include trees, shrubs, and flowers (Hanafiah & Harun, 2010). In addition to that, people who are fascinated by birds need to visit the place. It is home to 326 species of birds. However, the population is likely to increase as birds from other parts of the world escape to the area to seek refuge after their former habitats have been destroyed due to deforestation. The surrounding environment is famous for being home to species like the gigantic Rafflesia plants (Hanafiah & Harun, 2010).
Mount Kinabalu also has over 100 mammalian species and new species are identified and recorded with time (Hanafiah & Harun, 2010). Mount Kinabalu is easily climbed by most people as mountaineering equipment are not required at any part of the climb. However, it has some rocks at Massif, which requires the person climbing to be more cautious. Its highest peak is known as Low’s Peak (Singh, 2015). Thus, the choice of this destination for the marketing program is conditioned by its diverse natural environment. Tourists from the West should visit this place in 2017 in any month.
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Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Center
The name of the rehabilitation center was formed from two rivers that pass through the Sandakan Bay. The primary objective of the rehabilitation center is to take injured or displaced orangutans from the jungle, treat them before returning them back to the jungle once they are healed. Young orangutans are placed in a nursery where they are trained on how to climb trees and engage in other activities in the jungle. It is located in Sabah which is in East Malaysia. The rehabilitation center is found within the Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve (Benur & Bramwell, 2015).
The reserve covers a virgin forest which is around 4,294 ha. Tourists have an opportunity to interact with young orangutans since the opening of the nursery to the public in October 2014 (Benur & Bramwell, 2015). Once tourists pay to enter the rehabilitation center, there are no extra charges to observe life in the nursery. It is fascinating to see previously injured or neglected orangutans attain total independence and being led back to the jungle. The facility allows tourists to feed the orangutans twice a day. This permission offers a memorable opportunity for a person to come in very close contact with orangutans, which is a rare occurrence. The rehabilitation center is easily assessable by road, and a bus carries people from Sandakan Town to Sepilok every day (Benur & Bramwell, 2015).
Facilities include Sepilok Jungle Resort, Sepilok Rest House, and Labuk B&B. The entering fees are cheap and affordable. Although charges are in the Malaysian currency, various popular currencies are also accepted. Tourists can involve themselves in numerous recreation activities including nature walks and trail within the reserve (Benur & Bramwell, 2015). One can walk in the tropical highland rainforests or lowland mangrove swamps. Therefore, the marketing program will focus on introducing this site to the target tourists and give them reasons why they should consider visiting this place.
The Gunung Mulu National Park
Malaysia is rich in good scenarios and the aesthetic views from game parks, forest to national parks, and the Gunung is one of the biggest and beautiful parks in the country. It prides itself as the most tropical karst area in the world, and this is the area where most karst features are found. The park covers a massive 52,864-hectare piece of land. It is home to 3,500 known species of plants. Palm trees discovered in the park include 109 species (Kasim & Scarlat, 2015). The park also has caves that stretch to over 295 kilometers. There is a sandstone pinnacle known as the Gunung Mulu which stands at 2,377 meters. Found also in the park, the world’s largest cave chamber is referred as the Sarawak Chamber. Inside the caves, millions of bats can be seen (Kasim & Scarlat, 2015). Gunung Mulu National Park is famous for many reasons. Firstly, it has a forest which is home to many animals, and there are many mountains and waterfalls. These natural features form great rare sceneries. People travel from far and wide to have a view of the landscapes. One cannot resist the magnificence of the caves found in the park. The Clearwater Cave System is the longest cave in the whole of Asia. Inside the caves, one can view different types of speleotherms. Steleotherms are structures formed inside the caves after minerals which flow with water deposit themselves inside the caves (Benur & Bramwell, 2015).
Secondly, people can view significant changes that have occurred on the earth’s surface since the ancient times. This experience is fascinating not only for people who study rocks but also for people who appreciate nature at its best. Tourists can view three major changes that have occurred in the rock formation. The first one is the Mulu rock formation of Paleocene, Eocene, and sandstone. The tectonic and climatic changes that have taken place in Borneo can be well understood when one is taken through a memorable journey through the caves. The caves are estimated to be over 3 million years old (Benur & Bramwell, 2015). Such old age offers an opportunity to see nature in its inception time. The uplift rate for the alluvial soils in the area is calculated to be 19 centimeters after every 1 thousand years. Thus, the videos of these caves will be recorded and uploaded on the internet. Potential visitors can view the videos according to the market plan.
Borneo Convection Center Kuching
Borneo Convection Center Kuching is a conventional center located in Sarawak. It is a world-class exhibition and conventional center. The center is located only 8 kilometers from the city hence is easily assessable (Irwana Omar, Ghapar Othman, & Mohamed, 2014). Borneo Isthmus Development Company maintains and manages all the activities of BCCK. This center is ideal for both local and foreign tourists. It offers standard rooms for conferences and meetings. Visitors can choose from a variety of rooms, and every room has the entire necessary infrastructure. Organizers are fast and efficient, hence booking is secure and reliable, which has made the center a good reputation.
The building is iconic, and its design was inspired by the rain forest that surrounds it. Hence, tourists can view the great sites of the rain forest during breaks in their meetings. The nearby forest offers a serene environment and quality air away from the polluted atmosphere in the cities. These conditions will ensure that people can conduct their meetings in an environment conducive to productive work. The roof of the building is in the form of a “Ririk” leaf. Such design makes its occupants have a feeling of having a meeting on the top of a tree. The walls of the center are shaped into trunks of trees. To consider the religious wants of Islamic tourists, BCCK faces Mecca which is a Holy City according to Muslims (Irwana Omar et al., 2014). It also has a prayer room in case tourists want to offer prayers to their supreme being.
Prices for the goods range thus making the center meet the needs of all tourists from different walks of life. In addition to that, BCCK has social halls where people can meet and interact. People working in the center are sociable and of different races. They also come from different countries and continents. Overall, this is an important destination to be included in the marketing program. Some of the tourists may be from the same company and hence would like to discuss the welfare of the enterprise. This center offers an environment conducive to such meetings. It is also an important feature in the program as it will offer travelers an opportunity to shop.
The Kinabatangan River
The Kinabatangan River is the longest river in Sabah State. It is approximately 560 kilometers and drains into the Sulu Sea (Ing, Liew-Tsonis, Cheuk, & Razli, 2010). It has the largest number of marine creatures in South East Asia. Tourists can navigate the river from either the morning to the evening or the night till the morning. While navigating the river, one can spot not only the river creatures but also animals such as elephants and rhinos that may be drinking water from the river. Crocodiles and birds can also be seen from the river (Benur & Bramwell, 2015).
The Orang Sungai group of people is another interesting reason to visit this site. They are located on the banks of the river and are native to the state of Sabah. They depend entirely on the river for all their necessary requirements. They have navigated the river for many years and thus are away of any risks and benefits of the river. Native people always welcome tourists and are ready to share their deep knowledge with the visitors (Kaur & Chong, 2010). They have unique ways to catch fish, and they usually prepare fish for their guests at no cost. Tourists can interact with them and experience their way of life which is entirely dependent on nature.
Cost-benefit Analysis and Possible Marketing Budget
There are different things to see in the area and many activities to engage in during the visit. Some of the costs a tourist is likely to incur are traveling, accommodation, entry tickets, and shopping expenses. However, the visitors will view scenes they have never seen before, enjoy meals from different countries, interact with hospitable people, create long lasting memories, relax, and appreciate nature. To a large extent, the benefits outweigh the costs. In order to minimize costs, the program will recommend the cheapest modes of transports to use from one destination to another and the most affordable accommodation services. Expenses in the marketing budget include advertisement and research costs and finances incurred in reaching potential tourists.
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Pertinent Aspects of Understanding a Tourist Base
There are many lodges, and therefore, accommodation would not be a problem. One can sample foods from different parts of the country at the hotels and restaurants found along the river. Communities living along the river have a culture of entertaining their visitors with dances and songs, hence tourists will have an extra treat of entertainment after enjoying their interaction with nature (Kaur & Chong, 2010).
Malaysian Borneo region has different races which live in harmony and peace. Dominant races include Malays, Indian and Chinese. Nevertheless, there are other smaller ethnic groups spread throughout the country. Each of these different communities has their own unique foods and culture which they are willing to share with other people. Therefore, a visitor will witness and enjoy some of these cultures (Cheuk, Liew-Tsonis, Ing, & Razli, 2010).
The country is governed by a constitution and is a monarchy. It has 13 states with three territories. Although the state religion is Islam, people from all other religions are given an opportunity to practice their religion without discrimination (Ooi, Hooy, & Som, 2013). The currency used in the country is Ringgit Malaysia (RM). In fact, a tourist should not worry about the currency as there are numerous exchange points at the airport and throughout the country. Credit cards are also acceptable in many tourism attraction sites.
The weather in the country is favorable with high temperatures most of the time. There are two monsoon periods which occur between April and October and October and February. Malay (Bahasa Mejayu) is the official language in the country. However, English is widely spoken by most of the people; hence, tourists should not worry about the language barrier. The government has also conducted numerous projects to develop transport and infrastructure (Benur & Bramwell, 2015).
The region experiences a good political environment. In the recent times, there has not been a single politically associated violence. Hence, 2017 is likely to enjoy a healthy political climate. In addition to that, harsh climatic conditions in the area are rare. Although there was an earthquake in 2015 which killed 15 people, likelihood of reoccurrence is very low (Kaur & Chong, 2010).
The Borneo region consists of three smaller areas which are Sabah, Sarawak, and Labuan. Members of parliament from the three areas voted for a bill that converted the three areas from being equal partners with Malaysia to being one of the 13 states of the Malaysian Federation (Cheuk et al., 2010). Politically, the area supports the ruling coalition Barisan Nasional. Although party leadership struggles are common, the region enjoys the democratic freedom and a right political environment.
The government has invested heavily in infrastructure. Most roads have been built to the required standards. Internet connectivity in the area is extensive and facilities like hotels, clubs, and theaters are all over the city. People in the area mostly belong to the upper and middle class. They earn from tourism and fishing (Kaur & Chong, 2010).
The region enjoys a good justice system. Courts in the area are formed and run according to the Constitution of Malaysia. Thus, the justice guarantees every citizen his or her freedoms and rights. Crime in the area is under control, and fewer cases against tourists are reported as compared to other regions within Asia. Most of the area is composed of lowland rain forest although some areas have mountain rain forests. Borneo which is also known as East Malaysia has five high mountains (Purwomarwanto & Ramachandran, 2015).
The Marketing Plan
The plan will include a brief explanation of the project, steps to take in order to inform potential tourists about the region, expected challenges in marketing, and innovative ideas to make the project work. The program will aim at informing people living in the West about the region and convincing them to visit the area. Most individuals in the West have access to the internet, thus web forms are the best way to market the area. In addition to that, people of all races, ages, and religion access the internet, thus marketing through the internet will reach diverse people.
Currently, people are more interested in videos than photos and books. Therefore, videos are created about the region and will be distributed to people. The marketing plan is to make fascinating short videos that show different places and activities that take place there. The videos will be about particular events in the region. For example, an animal video will be recorded for potential tourists who are interested in animals. Another video will be shot about plants, rocks, and all other natural resources found in the region.
The videos will then be shared and sent to potential tourists through all the available social media platforms. Moreover, it is essential to create a website that contains all the necessary information about every site in the region. Information about the site will include the exact location, traveling and accommodation costs, the best time to visit, and ticket costs. All the videos will contain a link to the website. The website will also offer a platform where any potential tourist may ask questions.
In an effort to ensure that most potential tourists are aware of the region, updates on the website will frequently be done to inform them about any new ideas. In addition to that, new and exciting videos will be created from time to time. The videos will be promoted in every social media platform.
Challenges to this marketing plan include website creation and maintenance costs, video recording and editing expenses, and internet charges. Other expenses will include transport, accommodation, and entry fees to different sites to create the videos. Nevertheless, this plan is unique because it will offer a glimpse of the facilities, expected costs to visit the facilities, and a platform to ask questions. Everything will be in the same location and at the comfort of one’s home provided an individual has a computer or a phone.
Assessment Processes, Tools, and Methods
In order to assess the effectiveness of the marketing plan within time, people’s comments on the website will be viewed and analyzed. The number of people watching the videos will be noted and recorded. If the number increases with time, the plan is successful. The assessment of the marketing plan will also be determined by how people distribute videos to their friends and relatives. If the plan is effective, the videos are likely to reach more people. Lastly, the number of individuals who visit the region after viewing the videos will determine the efficiency of the plan.
The area offers an excellent opportunity for tourists to interact with nature and the ecosystem. There are numerous and diverse natural resources located within the area. However, people in areas away from Malaysia are not aware of the existence of these locations. Visiting the region will offer tourists an excellent opportunity to see natural resources, flora, and fauna in their historic home. There are numerous visitors’ destinations in the area, but the focus has been put on areas that offer the best ecological environment.
In addition to that, analysis has been made on all the available modes of transport and settled on the cheapest yet effective forms for each area. A tourist may visit one of the convenient locations or opt to visit all of them. Costs have been determined and include transportation costs, entrance fees, and accommodation expenses. Various accommodation companies that offer cheaper services have been identified. Overall, the marketing plan will ensure that many people living in Europe and America are informed about the region and are convinced to visit the area. Challenges that are likely to occur while implementing the marketing plan have been also identified.