Dato’ Mirza Mohammad Taiyab
Director General of Tourism Malaysia
Dato’ Mirza Mohammad Taiyab is a driving force behind the country’s rapidly growing tourism industry today, and it all stemmed from a youthful penchant for visiting new places, seeing amazing sights and experiencing different cultures.
The current Director General of Tourism Malaysia has spent most of his professional career promoting the Malaysia brand and enticing people all over the world to visit this vibrant multi-cultural nation. It was a path chosen long ago.
Growing up in the small town of Bagan Serai in Perak’s northern Kerian district, he was a member of the scout movement and would often go for camping trips and cycling excursions. His parents also frequently travelled around the country, and took him along.
“I developed an interest for travelling and nature, and that gave me an idea of what kind of profession I would choose after finishing school. I wanted something to do with travel,” he recalls.
Upon completion of his Senior Cambridge, he pursued his tertiary studies at UiTM, earning a Diploma in Tourism Administration, followed by a Degree then Masters in Business Administration.
He started off with a short stint as a contract manager of a motor trading company, before joining the then Tourism Development Corporation (TDC) in 1982 as an assistant director in its develoment and project management division.
Mirza then served as Director of the corporation’s Frankfurt office in Germany, overseeing promotional activities in Europe, followed by a similar posting as director of the Tokyo office in Japan. After 14 years in these posts, he was elevated to Director of the International Promotion Division.
He became Deputy Director General of Tourism Malaysia in 2004, and finally Director General in 2006. In all, he has served under 7 Tourism Ministers, and seen a paradigm shift in global travel and hospitality trends.
“When I started, the industry was very Euro-centric, and most tourists came from Europe or Australia. Back then, China, India or ASEAN countries weren’t regarded as a major source of tourism.”
“Things have since changed, and tourism today is very regional, with ASEAN now the focus. And Malaysia, being centrally located, gets a lot of interest from Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia, Thailand and also China. “
“The brand is everything. We have added value to the name by adding ‘Truly Asia’ 15 years ago, to tell the world they can find a little sample of the continent, in Malaysia – a place where diverse peoples practice their own cultures and lifestyles, all living together in harmony and building the country.”
The country on track to achieve its target of 36 million tourists by 2020 under the Malaysia Tourism Transformation Programme, and hopes to generate RM168billion in revenue, more than double the current figure.
“When it comes to value of services, from hotels to shopping and food and beverage, Malaysia is one of the most attractive places in the world for that,” Mirza notes.
With tourism being an industry that deals with good times, his ascent through the ranks at Tourism Malaysia has been memorable. In particular, he fondly remembers the Visit Malaysia years in 1990, 1994, 2007 and 2014.
But there has also been frustration, like when tragedies happen. All it takes is one untoward incident, often beyond their control, to dissuade people from visiting.
“In 2014 for example, we were geared up to achieve a target of 28 million visitors. But then there were air tragedies, massive flooding, and security incidents. When these happen, you have to double your efforts to overcome it as quickly as possible,” adds Mirza.
He is confident the industry will continue to grow. The country is on track to achieve its target of 36 million tourists by 2020 under the Malaysia Tourism Transformation Programme, and hopes to generate RM168billion in revenue, more than double the current figure.
While he has never thought of quitting tourism and doing other things, he would like to share his knowledge and experience with the younger generations so they can also venture into the industry better prepared to face its challenges in the years to come.
“The young who wish to go into the tourism industry needs to know there is a lot of backend and behind the scenes work going on. One must be ready to operate from the back, before finally enjoying the fruits of being in front.“
“Every holiday period or festive season, one needs to sacrifice their own holidays, to ensure visitors enjoy theirs. Your holiday will have to come later, perhaps when you retire!” quips the father of three, who has been married for 22 years.
“Tourism is an industry of the future, and one of the fastest growing in the world. In years to come, technology, economy and security advancements will bring the world closer, and lead to more people travelling.”
“And that will help bridge peoples. For by appreciating and understanding each other’s cultures, and working together towards a common goal, we can all build society and make the world a better place to live.”
说拿督Mirza Mohammad Taiyab是马来西亚旅游业飞跃发展的原动力一点也不为过，而这一切仅是源于一名爱好四处游览，感受迷人景点与体验不同文化的年轻的心。
在霹雳州北部Kerian区的 Bagan Serai 小镇长大，他是童子军活跃的一员，经常参与露营旅行和骑单车游览，而双亲更是带着他走遍世界许多国家。