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Unleashing Malaysia’s Travel Resurgence With AI and Sustainable Solutions Take Centre Stage
August 3, 2023 News


Written by: Izzat Najmi, Journalist, AOPG

The travel industry in Malaysia is on the brink of a transformative resurgence, thanks to the power of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and sustainable practices. At an awe-inspiring press event held at the Google Malaysia office, Google Cloud unveiled its revolutionary collaborations and data-driven insights that promise to redefine the country’s travel landscape.

As Malaysia marks a full year since lifting its COVID-19 entry restrictions for foreign arrivals, the travel industry is ready to embrace new opportunities, backed by Google Cloud’s open data cloud and AI.

Outsized Opportunity for Adjacent Industries to Influence Tourism Growth

With digital travel services gaining rapid popularity, the future of Malaysia’s travel industry lies in digital transformation. An astonishing 7 out of 10 urban digital consumers in Malaysia are already immersed in the world of digital travel services, projected to grow an incredible 56% year-on-year and contribute a staggering USD $8 billion to the nation’s digital economy by 2025.

A glimpse into Google search trends reveals that adjacent industries can seize golden opportunities from Malaysia’s tourism rebound. Travel credit card and travel insurance queries witnessed an explosive growth of over 750% and 250%, respectively, signalling travellers’ desire for exclusive rewards and peace of mind. Moreover, “medical tourism” searches increased by over 60%, presenting healthcare providers with a chance to cater to those seeking specialised medical treatment in Malaysia.

The soaring search queries for “digital nomad visas,” increasing by over 350%, have also piqued the interest of industries like real estate, hospitality, financial services, and healthcare. Google Cloud believes that by understanding these emerging consumer segments and designing tailor-made products and services, businesses could be led to massive economic gains.

Megawaty Khie, Regional Director of Indonesia and Malaysia at Google Cloud, said that the impact of tourism extends beyond core areas like aviation and accommodation.

“Our analysis also highlights tourism’s impact on other sectors, from financial services to healthcare, to retail and transportation,” she added. With a focus on empowering organisations across industries, Google Cloud aims to deliver intelligent, data-driven capabilities that enable smarter business decisions and create a world-class visitor experience.

Megawaty Khie, Regional Director, Indonesia, and Malaysia, Google Cloud

Staying Ahead of Resurgent Air Travel Demand

Malaysia’s inbound international air travel demand has witnessed an astounding upturn since the easing of COVID-19 restrictions. On August 1, 2022, as Malaysia lifted the remaining entry barriers, inbound demand experienced a jaw-dropping year-on-year increase of 1,180%. This remarkable resurgence continued throughout the first half of 2023, marking an overall year-on-year increase of more than 188%.

Malaysia’s outbound international air travel demand and domestic air travel demand followed a similar upward trend, with year-on-year increases of 452% and 795%, respectively. This sustained surge in air travel demand necessitated innovative solutions to cater to the growing number of passengers.

To meet the challenges posed by the spike in passenger traffic, Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad, in collaboration with CloudMile, made a strategic move to migrate its digital real estate to Google Cloud’s open, scalable, secure, and energy-efficient infrastructure. By harnessing Google Cloud’s dynamic autoscaling capabilities, Malaysia Airports achieved seamless handling of peak workloads, ensuring a smooth user experience. Real-time airport and flight information is now available to millions of passengers, enhancing their journey from check-in to baggage collection.

Vijaykumar Dayinde, Chief Information Officer for Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad, expressed the criticality of optimising costs and scaling operations to deliver safe and high-quality digital-first passenger experiences. Embracing Google Cloud’s open data cloud provided the ideal foundation to fulfil their vision of becoming a global airport group that champions connectivity and sustainability, inviting tourists to explore and enjoy Malaysia’s myriad offerings.

Sustainable Transportation and Sustainable Tourism are Deeply Intertwined

There has also been an escalating consciousness of tourism’s environmental impact, which has led to sustainability becoming a prime consideration when planning travel itineraries. With search queries for “eco-tourism” and “sustainable transport” witnessing unprecedented growth of more than 700% and 160%, respectively, it is evident that nearly 4 in 10 digital consumers in Malaysia are willing to pay more for sustainable products or services.

Asia Mobiliti, a fast-growing mobility technology startup, is at the forefront of enabling seamless and sustainable multimodal transport experiences for tourists in Malaysia. By building and running its Mobility-as-a-Service platform on Google Cloud’s open, scalable, secure, and energy-efficient infrastructure, Asia Mobiliti is revolutionising the way people travel.

Through Google Cloud’s advanced analytics and business intelligence tools, deployed with support from PointStar, Asia Mobiliti empowers B2B customers with real-time insights, enabling them to respond effectively to commuters’ needs. Leveraging proprietary machine learning algorithms, Asia Mobiliti offers demand-responsive transit services, optimising ridership and cost by dispatching vehicles based on demand.

Ramachandran Muniandy, CEO and Co-founder, of Asia Mobiliti, envisions a future where sustainable tourism and mobility intersect, benefitting both tourists and citizens.  The platform aims to, quoting him, “help digitise all modes of transport and connect them with each other, thereby enabling seamless and on-demand multimodal transport experiences for tourists and citizens alike.”

The decision to build its platform on Google Cloud’s open data cloud, powered by 100% renewable energy, was a clear choice, given Google’s leadership in data science and secure-by-design principles.

On the other hand, Justin Lee, CEO, of PointStar, emphasised the value of a cloud-first innovation strategy for entrepreneurs like Asia Mobiliti. By embracing best-in-class cloud, analytics, and AI technologies, startups can now drive growth, transform industries, and create positive impacts on societies and the environment.

From left to right: Michael Hoo, Head of Customer Engineering, Google Cloud, Malaysia, Lester Leong, CloudMile’s Malaysia Country Manager, Vijaykumar Dayinde, Chief Information Officer, Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad, Megawaty Khie, Regional Director, Indonesia, and Malaysia, Google Cloud, Ramachandran Muniandy, CEO and Co-founder, Asia Mobiliti and Justin Lee, CEO, PointStar.

Empowering Talent for the AI Economy

Google Cloud also introduced seven generative AI skills development courses under the Cloud Skills Boost Programme, a nod to their efforts in recognising the importance of nurturing AI talent in Malaysia. These courses empower learners to understand, customise, and apply generative AI responsibly. Malaysians now have the opportunity to build AI proficiency and explore career opportunities in this rapidly growing field.

In addition, Google Cloud introduced generative AI support on Vertex AI, offering access to pre-trained models through the Model Garden. Organisations can customise these models and integrate them into applications and websites, enhancing their AI journey.

To foster innovation, Google Cloud also supports startups through the Google for AI Startups Cloud Programme. Startups leveraging AI as a core technology can benefit from cloud cost coverage of up to USD $350,000 over two years. Pre-seed AI-first startups receive up to USD $2,000 in cloud credits to develop proofs-of-concept.

With these groundbreaking collaborations, innovative solutions, and support initiatives, Google Cloud is set to empower Malaysia’s travel industry, driving sustainable growth in the post-pandemic era.

Megawaty Khie, said, ending her speech, “AI, and generative AI in particular, will have a profound impact on community and commerce. By making new skilling courses, pre-trained models, developer-friendly tools, and startup support available in Malaysia, Google Cloud is reinforcing its commitment towards empowering organisations of all sizes to build and deploy their own generative AI applications with ease and speed, while protecting their data, applications, and users.”