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Tourism Forum 2024: An Impressive Panel Navigates the Impacts of COVID-19 Pandemic on Tour Operator Business in Malaysia

The Tourism Forum 2024, a collaborative effort between Taylor’s University, Universiti Malaysia Sabah, and the ASEAN Tourism Research Association (ATRA), marked a significant milestone in addressing the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on tour businesses in Malaysia. Hosted at Taylor’s University Lakeside Campus, the forum aimed to delve into the complex challenges faced by the tourism sector and explore viable survival strategies for tour operators post-pandemic. The objectives of the forum were multifaceted, including analyzing the effects of the pandemic on tour businesses in Malaysia, facilitating discussions on innovative survival tactics for tour operators, and fostering collaboration among academia, industry stakeholders, and government bodies to revitalize the tourism sector.

The event commenced with an insightful remark from Professor Dr. Neethiahnanthan Ari Ragavan, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences & Leisure Management at Taylor’s University and President of ASEAN Tourism Research Association, highlighting the crucial role of tour operators in navigating the industry through turbulent times. This was followed by Professor Dr. Jennifer Chan Kim Lian, Professor and Head of Tourism Economic Cluster Centre for Economic Development and Policy from Universiti Malaysia Sabah, underscored the importance of academia-industry partnerships in driving innovation and resilience within the tourism ecosystem.

A pivotal moment in the forum was the keynote address delivered by Mr. Shahrin Mokhtar, Director of the Strategic Planning Division at Tourism Malaysia, where he elucidated government strategies for supporting tourism stakeholders during and after the pandemic. Additionally, the research insights presented by Senior Lecturers, Dr. Thanam Subramaniam from School of Hospitality, Tourism & Events, Taylor's University and Dr. Tay Kai Xin from Universiti Malaysia Sabah shed light on the evolving dynamics of Malaysia's tourism sector.

The forum session, moderated by Professor Dr. Seyyed Mostafa Rasoolimanesh, Vice-Chancellor Professorial Research Fellow and Professor of Sustainable Tourism from Edith Cowan University, Australia featured dynamic discussions with esteemed panelists, including industry luminaries and policymakers such as Y.M. Tunku Dato’ Seri (Dr) Iskandar Bin Tunku Abdullah, YBhg. Datuk Tan Kok Liang, YBhg. Professor Datuk Seri Dr. Victor Wee Eng Lye and Mr. Nigel Wong.

The panelists engaged in thought-provoking discussions, addressing pertinent issues and challenges faced by the tourism industry, providing invaluable insights and encouraging exchange of ideas among participants. After the panel discussion session, the event concluded with closing remarks from Assoc. Prof. Dr. Joaquim Dias Soeiro, Head of the School of Hospitality, Tourism & Events, Taylor's University.

The Tourism Forum culminated an enhanced understanding of the challenges faced by tour businesses in Malaysia amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, along with the identification of innovative strategies and best practices for fostering resilience and recovery within the sector. Furthermore, the event facilitated and strengthened collaboration between academia, industry stakeholders, and government bodies, laying the groundwork for concerted efforts towards revitalizing Malaysia's tourism landscape in the aftermath of the pandemic.

In conclusion, the Tourism Forum served as a platform for robust discourse, knowledge exchange, and collaboration among key stakeholders in the tourism ecosystem. Through insightful presentations, engaging discussions, and invaluable networking opportunities, the event exemplified the collective commitment towards driving positive change and fostering resilience within Malaysia's vibrant tourism industry.

With a hybrid format accommodating 200 physical participants and numerous virtual attendees, the convergence of diverse perspectives facilitated lively discussions and laid the groundwork for joint initiatives to rejuvenate the tourism sector. The organizers expressed gratitude to all participants, panelists, and sponsors for their invaluable contributions to the success of the Tourism Forum.


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