Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Where's Malaysia?

When I recently visited the US with Kevin he was frequently asked where he was from. We both proudly responded that we were from Malaysia. Most of the responses were either "What's that?" or "Where's Malaysia?". We then asked if these people knew where Thailand, Singapore or Indonesia was. They knew where these places were, so we simply said Malaysia is in that area.

Granted most people and especially younger people have a very weak knowledge of world geography, but why hadn't people even heard of Malaysia. There was only one person whom we met who knew about Malaysia and even Penang. He was an Indonesian-American working in the car rental place where we rented our car.  All of the time we were in the US we saw tourism ads on television about China, Singapore, Indonesia and several other countries. We didn't see anything about Malaysia. On the other hand living here in Malaysia and watching Astro we are constantly bombarded by ads about Malaysia. People watching these already live here!

People know that Singapore is the center of business in the East and is a thriving economy. People know Thailand for it's beauty, food and tourist attractions. People know Indonesia for the beautiful island of Bali, beautiful volcanoes, scenery and wildlife and the fastest growing economy in the area. Why don't people know anything about Malaysia?  Maybe the Ministry of Tourism should concentrate its advertising in different areas of the West and maybe they should help local tourism businesses to promote the wonders of Malaysia. Any suggestions?


  1. I guess it depends - I work in a university in Cambridge, MA and I was surprised to find out that quite a number of faculty/researchers been to Malaysia. There are even more been to East Malaysia/Borneo island where I came from. One of them told me he fell in love with Kuching!

  2. It could also be the best return on ringgits invested is advertising in SE Asia, China and the middle east. It might be that advertising the USA about Malaysia just isn't the best way to spend the marketing budget. It do think there is some invested in the USA but a fairly limited amount.

    How about this for a smart advertising strategy. Fund some Malaysian restaurants and have the menus have details and a flyer... Restaurants have very thin profit margins, and traditional advertising costs a fortune. I think I would look into that strategy if I were a country.

  3. Interesting and to think that Malaysia is on several 'Top' lists such as best food, best islands, best beaches, etc.

    You are probably right that our TDC needs some more work around the world.

    Nice blog, great insights from a foreigner. Welcome to Malaysia!

  4. Maybe it's because if you live on the East coast of the US it would take 20+ hours to get to Malaysia and then again most Americans just don't travel that far away from home. Lastly remember that famous National Geographic geography test - how many couldn't even find the USA on a world map? LOL

  5. Thank you for the great comments. I agree with Anonymous. Many Americans have a very parochial mentality and are not aware there is another world beyond their hometown. Sometimes I don't think there is much of a difference between stupidity and parochialism.

    Thank you Fiona for your comments. If anyone would know where Malaysia was it would be a resident of Cambridge, MA. There are people and restaurants there from every single country of the world. In regards to your reference to "Top" lists I see them all of the time and wonder who puts them together. At any one time several places could occupy the top of the list on any category.

  6. I think it's just a matter of knowing what's needed.

    I just knew about latvia at the age of 30+.

    not that i needed anything there, mind. lol.

  7. I am Australian, not so far from Malaysia, and interestingly I have met many Australians who have done Singapore, Thailand, Viet Nam, Cambodia, and Indonesia, but never stepped into Malaysia. Why, I haven't been able to fathom.

    For me, I first visited Malaysia in the 70s during my student & hippy days.