KUALA LUMPUR: More than 40 per cent of tourists made their choice to travel to Malaysia via word of mouth and through social media.
Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said this shows the influence of social media in drawing tourists to the country.
The find, she said, is also strengthened by statistics which show that Malaysia ranks 17th out of 213 countries which actively use Facebook, with 12 million users over the past six months.
"There is no doubt that we have grown to be closer to social media. The tourism sector, like it or not, has to engage in this fast moving world.
"Today, leisure and travel business is heavily dependent on social media networks for all their promotional activities.
"This new media has changed the landscape of leisure and travel. It has brought people closer, created new communities and unleashed creative and innovative ways of promoting tourism in Malaysia to all," she said after attending the inaugural Malaysia International Tourism Bloggers Conference and Awards (MITBCA) in the city here yesterday.
The two-day conference is expected to provide resultdriven recommendations to the government and Tourism Ministry to assist the nation in steering the country's economic, political and social well-being through tourism.
Dr Ng said according to Travelblog.org and Technorati.com, Malaysia is ranked 4th in the global blogosphere world.
"Over 23 per cent of Malaysian bloggers are dedicated travel bloggers. We are proud to be well represented."
She added that tourist interest in the country could translate into greater interaction in other fi elds, leading to business opportunities, collaborations and cultural exchanges.
"In 2011 alone, a total 55,565 jobs were created.
For 2012, the Tourism Ministry target is stretched to 90,542.
The ministry is revving up efforts to make Malaysia a prime choice for international world conferences.
Its target is to hold 45 conference events in 2012 with an economic impact of RM17.6 billion," she said.