Photo - Guests at the launch of VirtualMalaysia.com 2.0.
MSC (Multimedia Supercorridor) Malaysia status firm Creative Advances Technology's launch of a new version of its travel site dubbed VirtualMalaysia 2.0 has been welcomed by the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) for its use of social media and crowdsourcing features.
During the launch, Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) president Tuan Haji Hamzah Rahmat said the new VirtualMalaysia, which went live 1 August 2013, offers more interactive and up-to-date information and uses "the wisdom of crowds to improve travellers' experience".
"Today's travellers are quite a different breed," said Tuan Haji Hamzah. "They are better informed as they do research of destinations before visiting. They are also more adventurous and would read up other travellers' writings or blogs and visit more off-beat locales. The user-generated contents featured on new VirtualMalaysia.com will resonate better with these travellers as the reviews or write-ups come directly from travellers themselves."
Creative Advances Technology (CAT) chief executive officer and founder of the VirtualMalaysia, Rohizam Md Yusoff, said: "In the past, VirtualMalaysia.com featured content solely produced by our internal writers."
"Now with the increasing popularity of web 2.0 whereby user-generated content and social media play an important role, we want the content of the new VirtualMalaysia site to be more social-media driven and to feature articles, photos, travel tips and information contributed by the travelling consumers themselves that can be shared on social media platforms," said Rohizam.
"This release is timely since we are heading towards Visit Malaysia Year (VMY) 2014. Everyone can contribute towards promoting Malaysia to the world," he said.
Photo - Rohizam Md Yusoff (Centre) explaining about VirtualMalaysia.com 2.0 to the media.
Official e-tourism portal
The site, which was launched in 1999, was recognised by Tourism Malaysia ministry as the official e-tourism portal for Malaysia, said Rohizam.
"The website was considered advanced then as it was the first multimedia travel portal in Malaysia with streaming videos and hosted 500,000 images covering virtually every travel destination in Malaysia," he said. "Today, many industry players still regard it as a strong brand. The healthy site traffic of more than 3,000 visitors per day is testament of VirtualMalaysia's strong following.
"Just like TripAdvisor, travellers get reviews from actual visitors or bloggers who have actually been to the destinations, be it a tourist attraction, hotel or good place to eat," said CAT chief marketing officer, Joanna Liao.
"We have seen online user-generated reviews getting more traffic as they are more believable. In addition, other users can also share or give comments on the content," said Liao.
"To summarise, we are now in the position to generate benefits for all parties involved in VirtualMalaysia.com - from content creators to content users," added CAT's Rohizam. "Even travel industry players and tourist attractions will benefit as these establishments that are reviewed can get stronger exposure and real-time feedback from the market."
In conjunction with the launch, CAT announced its Merdeka Deals campaign starting 29 August until 7 September 2013, which offers travel and hotel deals on local destinations.
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