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HK eyes Michelle Yeoh as tourism ambassador, while debate in MY ensues around Yeoh and tagline

HK eyes Michelle Yeoh as tourism ambassador, while debate in MY ensues around Yeoh and tagline

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Hong Kong is reportedly eying Academy Award winner Michelle Yeoh as tourism ambassador to promote the city, according to SCMP. This comes shortly after the Malaysia- born actress made history as the first Asian to win an Oscar in the Best Actress category for her role in the science-fiction comedy "Everything Everywhere All at Once".

In her award acceptance speech, Yeoh paid tribute to Malaysia and thanked Hong Kong where she started her career in the film industry. The report by SCMP said that the HKTB is hoping to persuade Yeoh to take up the role of tourism ambassador.  

Furthermore, the report said Hong Kong will allocate an extra HK$800 million (HK$600 million in funding this year to support the industry and HK$200 million from its own reserves) to lure back tourists and showcase multi-destination travel in the Greater Bay Area (GBA). Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) saw a provisional visitor arrival of 1.462 million in February, a triple of that in January.  It forecasted in early January this year that the annual visitor arrivals of 2023 will gradually resume and reach about 25.8 million, which is still less than half of the 2019 level.

Don't miss: Hong Kong invites tenders for digital media promotion of Brand HK

Beyond Yeoh, HKTB also plans to collaborate with renowned regional and international media to produce a series of drama and variety shows, and invite renowned directors, actors and celebrity chefs to produce shows in Hong Kong for telling the unique Hong Kong story through films and gourmet.

Meanwhile, there has also been conversations in Malaysia regarding Yeoh’s promotion and representation of the country, which then spiralled into the realm of who the actual creator of the “Malaysia, Truly Asia” campaign truly was. According to adland veteran Tan Sri Vincent Lee who claims to have started the campaign, Yeoh was paid zero cent as the tourism ambassador for the country when the campaign tagline came around – to which she didn’t hesitate to say yes.

However, Lee’s claims to have started the campaign were soon refuted by marketing agency ISC International who said that the agency was contracted by Tourism Malaysia from 1999 through 2010 to “conceive, develop, produce, launch and roll out” the campaign under four Tourism Ministers – Datuk Seri Kadir, Datuk Seri Leo Michael Toyad, Tengku Datuk Seri Adnan and Datuk Seri Azalina Othman. According to a 2019 article published in The New Straits Times, the tagline was first created by ISC in 1999.

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE has reached out to Tourism Malaysia on the verification of agencies.

In a conversation with MARKETING-INTERACTIVE, Austen Zecha, the founder and CEO of ISC said unfortunately all of the news around “who done it” of the campaign takes away from the credit of Yeoh as an individual who has attained such glory, and can potentially be an ambassador for Malaysia. “An ambassador goes beyond where they are from, but what they represent,” he said.

“An individuals achievement should not detract from his or her individuality, more than even where he or she comes from,” he said. “The individual's achievement is paramount. Where he or she comes from secondary. As Usain Bolt's achievements are his as an individual. The fact that he comes from Jamaica is secondary.”

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