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Saturday, February 11, 2012

Lack of real-time updates dent Langkawi's plans to boost tourism

THE important role played by the social media in crisis communications for the travel and tourism sector in Langkawi this week could not be better highlighted last week.
This paper reported that repeat German visitors to the resort island, Hubert Heiler and his wife Mariah, were badly injured following an attack by machete-wielding robbers in Pantai Tengah.

As the couple, who spend at least two months a year on the island, now recover at the Langkawi Hospital and ponder on whether they wish to ever return to Langkawi, the incident does little with the government's efforts in trying to lure more tourists especially high-end spenders to the island.

Apart from spooking travellers that they may wish to consider other destinations where public safety is not compromised, business people are probably also nervous on how an isolated incident of this kind can damage their operations, especially in an age where all it takes is a Facebook status update, tweet, text message or email to cause irreparable damage.

The government last December unveiled a very ambitious five-year tourism blueprint meant to improve the economic fortunes of the tax-free isle, which once was a thriving spot on the world tourism map.

Several investors have already committed to ploughing in significant amounts of money via new hotels and other forms of offerings, existing hoteliers are in the midst of injecting more funds to upgrade and rebrand their dated products and a new sense of hope is in the air that the good times will return and the island, which was left to languish for a few years, will wake up from its slumber.

The dissemination of facts, messages and opinions through social media vehicles like Twitter, Facebook and other platforms have gained important prominence in recent times, especially when the need arises to communicate in times of emergencies, accidents and other catastrophes.

Random checks on various websites and blogs currently do not show a single official and authoritative point of Internet reference for a visitor to Langkawi.

The portal for instance, is nothing but a virtual promotional brochure for Langkawi.

The same applies to the Langkawi Development Authority (Lada).

Lada, which is tasked with overseeing Langkawi's development, also lacks real-time and critical updates for visitors.

Just how is Langkawi expected to get its buzz back as an international tourist spot if the basics are not even seen to?

With social media having the ability to make a negative piece of news go viral in seconds and cause sometimes irreparable damage to reputation, the authorities tasked with Langkawi's future fortunes must be mindful that they no longer have a choice but to manage their reputation and closely guard the value of their "assets".

With projections from the new blueprint that RM5 billion worth of investment in tourism projects are set to pour in to Langkawi during the five-year blueprint term spanning 2011-2015, strategic communications, which includes social media is no longer an option, but a must-do that has to be seen to without further delay.

Failure to effectively communicate during good and bad times with the correct messaging will have effect in realising goals such as welcoming three million visitors to Langkawi by 2015, creating thousands of new jobs or convincing investors to consider the island.

While tourism portals, blogs and other forms of media are being operated by Langkawi's tourism players to promote their own products and services, the need for an effective system of communicating to the public and media must take off, before another negative or untoward incident further mars the image of the "Isle of Legends".

AL :-
Cant agree more. LADA or tourism should have a specific website for updates on events in Langkawi. Anything from news to promotion. Be prudent & honest on news.. 
Blog like mine sometimes depends on the writer to update from time to time. :)..

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