#TECH: Going digital as tourism rebounds

AS the global travel industry rebounds from the shadow of the Covid-19 pandemic, a surge in opportunities is emerging not only within the travel sector, but also in adjacent industries, fuelled by Malaysia's tourism revival.

At a recent panel discussion centred on business prospects in the tourism domain, Google Cloud experts emphasised the potential for various sectors to leverage this resurgence for their growth.

Google Cloud's analysis of search trends spanning July 16 last year to July 15 this year presents the avenues for adjacent industries to thrive alongside Malaysia's tourism boom.

The search data revealed an astonishing 750 per cent surge in queries related to "travel credit card" and a substantial 250 per cent spike in those related to "travel insurance" in Malaysia over the past year.

This substantial increase signals a great opportunity for financial institutions to cater to travellers' unique needs, offering tailored rewards for tourism-related expenditures and providing peace of mind through coverage against unforeseen disruptions.

Furthermore, medical tourism is undergoing a metamorphosis, with search queries for "medical tourism" witnessing a commendable growth of more than 60 per cent during the same period.

Healthcare providers, meanwhile, are presented with a golden opportunity to engage with prospective visitors seeking specialised medical treatments in Malaysia.

In the digital landscape, the term "digital nomad visas" has experienced a staggering 350 per cent increase in search queries.

As the boundaries between work and travel blur, industries like real estate, hospitality, food and grocery, financial services and healthcare are urged to recalibrate their offerings to meet the distinct requirements of this evolving consumer segment. The potential entails co-working spaces, short-term housing options, on-demand delivery services, cross-border health insurance and multi-currency savings accounts.


Google Cloud regional director (Indonesia and Malaysia) Megawaty Khie explained the significance of this digital shift.

She highlighted that seven out of 10 urban digital consumers in Malaysia were already engaging with digital travel services, with expectations of a 56 per cent year-on-year growth. This surge is projected to contribute a substantial US$8 billion to Malaysia's digital economy by 2025.

Khie said the travel industry must embrace the culture of always-on, personalised and secure digital services to foster exceptional visitor experiences.

"While we often focus on core areas like aviation and accommodation when gauging tourism's economic impact, our analysis illuminates the ripple effect across other sectors.

"We are committed to equipping organisations across industries with data-driven capabilities to make informed decisions and partake in a comprehensive ecosystem that offers world-class visitor experiences."

The collaborative efforts between Google Cloud, Malaysia Airports, Asia Mobiliti, CloudMile and PointStar exemplify this commitment.

Leveraging Google Cloud's expertise, Malaysia Airports has bolstered its information technology (IT) systems' resilience, enabling the management of heightened workloads while minimising costs. This collaborative initiative ensures real-time passenger information dissemination, enhancing airport experiences from check-in to boarding to baggage claim.


This surge in travel has also highlighted the importance of scalable IT systems, with Malaysia Airports harnessing Google Cloud's dynamic auto-scaling capabilities to manage increased workloads while maintaining a seamless user experience.

This technological evolution serves as a cornerstone for delivering high-quality digital-first passenger experiences at scale.

Furthermore, sustainability has emerged as a paramount consideration in travel itineraries. Google's insights reveal a remarkable upswing in search queries related to "ecotourism" and "sustainable transport", indicating a growing awareness of tourism's environmental impact. Close to 40 per cent of digital consumers in Malaysia have expressed willingness to pay more for sustainable products or services.

Asia Mobiliti, a burgeoning mobility technology start-up, has heeded this call, building a mobility-as-a-service platform on Google Cloud's robust infrastructure. The platform envisions seamless and sustainable multi-modal transport experiences for tourists, aligning with the ethos of eco-conscious travel.

The intersection of technology, sustainability and travel has truly ushered in a new era of possibilities for industries both within and tangential to tourism.

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