LANGKAWI, Jan 5 (Bernama) -- Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz Sunday night reiterated that the government cannot afford to neglect the tourism industry as it generates 12 per cent of Malaysia's gross domestic product and employs more than 16 per cent of its total work force.
He said 28 million foreign tourists were expected to visit Malaysia during the Visit Malaysia Year 2014 and spend RM76 billion. The minister said the industry was an important and integral part of the Malaysian economy and was the nation's second largest foreign exchange earner.
"It has become one of the nation's lifeline, affecting almost all aspects of our everyday life. Hence, it is only appropriate that we take collective efforts in welcoming our foreign guests with our best hospitality," he said at the closing of the 'Langkawi Naturally Magical' by the Menteri Besar of Kedah, Datuk Mukhriz Tun Dr Mahathir, here tonight.
Mohamed Nazri said his ministry was embarking on a year-long education and promotion of 'We are the Host' programme to equip the industry's frontliners with the ability and confidence to play host to the foreign visitors.
"It is a national campaign requiring the support and commitment of every single Malaysian to lend a hand in ensuring that the foreign guests have an enjoyable stay in Malaysia, leaving them with memories that they would love to share with their family and friends back home.
"We have come a long way from the five million tourists who entered our shores back in 1989, we have surpassed many expectations, most notably our own to become one of the world's most dynamic tourism destinations," he said.
Meanwhile, Mukhriz when officiating the closing of the event said the event had proved to be a phenomenal success. "We targeted only 300,000 visitors during the event but tonight I'm very proud to announce that half a million visitors, both local and foreign, came to Langkawi during the 18-day of 'Langkawi Naturally Magical," said Mukhriz.
He said the event had even reached the ears of the regional tourists, especially from Indonesia and Thailand, who came to watch their megastars performing on stage.
"This means, word has gone out. We have successfully announced to the regional tourists about the attractions of 'Langkawi Naturally Magical', and they are here to witness, to be impressed and to behold. This is why I daresay this year's event will be bigger, grander," he added.
During the 18-day event, tourists were treated to the works of an award winning laser artist (Glen Turner, Oracle Attractions) and a water show director (Jack Ellison).
The night show utilised the latest special effects technology to manage and synchronise its main show component - laser, water jet fountain, ski show and fireworks display.