Official “Handover Ceremony”

The Grand Final of ITB Berlin 2019 sees Tourism Malaysia senior staff members warmly congratulated by management of ITB Berlin

The new Director General of Tourism Malaysia, Datuk Musa HJ. Yusof was present at the official “farewell” for Malaysia as Official Partner Country 2019 at 3:30pm on Sunday 10th March. Datuk Yusof and the entire support team were handed certificates from ITB Berlin “in recognition of the high commitment of Tourism Malaysia as the official partner country and trustful cooperation among all partners”.

ITB Country Handover 3The certificates were handed over by Dr Martin Buck, Senior Vice President Travel & Logistics, Messe Berlin (organisers of ITB Berlin), and Rika Jean-François, who is both CSR commissioner and in charge of partner country relations for Messe Berlin. Following this, the official “passing of the baton” took place, with Datuk Yusof handing over the baton to Salim Aday Al Mamari, Director General of Tourism Promotion for the Sultanate fo Oman, the 2020 Official Partner Country.

Dr Buck and Datuk Yusof exchanged thanks and congratulations for the excellent relationship between the nation’s tourism authority and ITB, a relationship which, underlined Datuk Yusof, dates back 47 years, almost to the beginnings of ITB itself. He in particular thanked ITB for its support, while for his part, Dr Buck stated that there was no doubt that making Malaysia official partner country this year was “the right decision”.

As part of what was a highly cultural event, dancers from Istana Budaya, Malaysia’s national theatre in Kuala Lumpur, opened proceedings, with the Mah Meri closing the show.

Coincidentally, Istana Budaya this year celebrates its 20th anniversary. Indeed, on a par with the world’s best, Malaysia’s National Theatre, 20 years after its inception, is still number 1 in Asia, and one of the top few worldwide.

Istana Budaya dancer at ITB Berlin 2019_7
Istana Budaya performer at ITB Berlin

Known locally as Istana Budaya, the state-of-the-art theatre was officially launched by the 4th Prime Minister of Malaysia on September 15th, 1999. It is located in Kuala Lumpur and covers a total area of 5.44 acres with the physical dimensions of the theatre encompassing 21,000 square meters. Its architectural design is based on a blend of various aspects of Malay traditional culture. Malaysia’s National Theatre takes pride as being the #1 theatre in Asia, and one just a few in the world with such sophisticated state-of-the-art stage mechanism for theatre performances, staging musical theatres from drama to comedy and concerts from classical to pop.

Local arts & culture are highlighted, providing opportunities for creative expression and enhancing excellence in performing arts. Istana Budaya’s main function is to provide quality entertainment to the public, in accordance with Malaysia’s National Culture Policy.

Istana Budaya continues to upgrade its technologies to be on par with those used by other theatres in the world. These include computer-controlled stage mechanisms, lighting systems, audio visual systems, and special effects. The Panggung Sari stage consists of 4 double deck stage lifts and 5 moving platforms also known as wagons. Double deck stage lift can be elevated or lowered up to 4.5 meters from the stage level. The moving platforms are made up of 4 side wagons and 1 rear wagon. The 4 side wagons are movable side to side and the rear wagon can be moved to the front and back. There are also 61 fly bars and a staggering 169 point hoists. The speed, levels and points of these mechanisms can be controlled individually or in formation. Combined with their network of state-of-the art lighting, audio visual and special effects systems, the stage offers endless possibilities in creating spectacular stage orchestrations for any form of stage productions.

Mah Meri at ITB Berlin 2019_3
Mah Meri “masked man” at ITB Berlin

The Mah Meri (meaning “jungle man”) is a group of indigenous people or “orang asli” living on Carey Island, about 28km south of the city of Klang in Selangor state, and just a couple of hours’ drive from Kuala Lumpur. There are five Mah Meri villages on Carey Island with total population about 4,000.

Mah Meri is indeed a subgroup of the Senoi ethnic group of indigenous people in Malaysia. Senoi are generally found in the central part of the Malaysian peninsular, and are believed to have come originally from Yunnan via Southern Thailand around 10,000 years ago.

The ITB Berlin Official Partnership has been a key element in the promotion of Tourism Malaysia with a view towards Visit Malaysia 2020.