Recently I had the chance to visit Kuala Lumpur again after more than 2 years. It came out all of a sudden when Minh, a blogger friend in HCMC, gave me a call asking: “Do you want to go to a tourism blogger conference in Kuala Lumpur?” – “When?” – “Next week!”. And yes, from the time I heard about the conference until I headed to Kuala Lumpur to attend it was about 4 days, and the conference itself lasted 2 days only. But that 2 days was wonderful!
The 2nd Malaysia International Tourism Bloggers Conference and Awards:
To be honest, I was amazed by the scale of the conference (which is called MITBCA in short). It was fully funded by the Ministry of Tourism in Malaysia with the opening speech by the Minister herself. The organizers flew many speakers from Philippines, Cambodia, Indonesia, Vietnam, India, Australia, US, South Africa as well as other parts of Malaysia to Kuala Lumpur, provided them with accommodation in a 5-star hotel, hosted the 2-day conference in KL Convention Center with refreshments, tea breaks, lunches and a gala dinner for free to all participants. THAT must be huge spending!
But that’s not all, the Malaysia Tourism Ministry is very active, even “aggressive” in promoting the country’s tourism industry. They are funding and organizing an extensive list of festivals and activities throughout the year to attract tourists. They are also present in all the social networks including separate Facebook pages to promote Malaysia tourism to different countries in their local languages (This is the page for Vietnam). What’s more? They host events to honor social media experts, writers, and bloggers such as this MITBCA, because they are fully aware of the “power of social media” as said by the Minister. I was so thrilled by the Minister’s opening speech. She was a great public speaker who conveyed amazing enthusiasm and inspiration to the audience. And isn’t it wonderful that she’s also on Twitter?!
So what is the result coming out of all those efforts? It must be surprising to hear that Malaysia is now number 9 most-visited country in the world (the only other Asian country in the list is China) and Kuala Lumpur is the number 4 best shopping destination worldwide (only after New York, Tokyo and London).
All of this makes me think what young generation in Vietnam should do to promote our own country?
Vietnam is beautiful, I think no one will deny that. We have marvelous mountains, waterfalls, beaches and a lot of historical sites, so why are we behind? Reasons at a macro level include: Vietnam was totally ruined after the war 30 years ago; The tourism infrastructure and services are still under construction; Visa is not provided on arrival, etc. etc. But while waiting for the Government to work on those issues, what can each individual do to help? Very easy! I would say: Show more, speak more, write more, photograph more, engage more, share more and BLOG more!
Recently I found this shocking fact: When we google “Vietnam travel blog”, there is this title coming up on the front page, which is a real spoiler for Vietnam tourism:
Obviously we can’t avoid a few irritated travelers who want to use their blogs to vent, and in this case it happens to be a well-known blogger who has very good ranking on search engines. The topic “Blogger should or should not write negative/discouraging things on their blog” needs a whole new lot of discussion so I just skip it for now.
However, this probably wouldn’t happen if Vietnam had a good base of travel bloggers writing about the country’s tourism in English like in Malaysia or Philippines. So what the travel blogging scene in Vietnam is like? Well..
1. Vietnam currently doesn’t have many “real” bloggers. People are dependent on micro blogging on Facebook, which doesn’t show on google search.
2. Most of the travel bloggers writing about Vietnam are either expats or international tourists, a lot of whom might be grumblers(!)
3. Local bloggers are blogging mostly in Vietnamese, and even a few bloggers who are writing in English rarely write about traveling in Vietnam.
This may take some time to change.. But I do hope that the change will come fast, just like every other thing in Vietnam, a country described by many travelers as “bustling”. I hope we will soon have more Vietnamese bloggers writing about Vietnam in English and to be honest, who can write about our own country better than ourselves, the “locals”?
Actually, I have been trying to encourage more friends to blog (and also to tweet), though the current reaction is not very positive, not everyone is confident about their English writing skills. However, blogging is not that difficult, taking into consideration that there are a lot of “photo blogs” in which words are minor and people even love them more than long and wordy pieces. Number 1 tip for all bloggers is to add images, lots of them; and in tourism blogging, images are extra important.
Coming back to Kuala Lumpur and MITBCA, it was such a wonderful conference and a great time! I learnt so much from other speakers and also made a lot of friends! However, there is one confession to make: so far the only place I have been to in Malaysia is Kuala Lumpur (twice). But I promise that I definitely will come back for Penang, Langkawi, Sabah, Melaka to experience the best of “truly Asia”. In the mean time, just two more tourist’s shots of the Petronas Twin Towers to show..