KUALA LUMPUR, July 16 (Bernama)-- China still ranks third in terms of arrival of its citizens to this country despite the missing MH370 flight incident, says Tourism and Culture Ministry's secretary-general Datuk Dr Ong Hong Peng.
"There was a loss of 19 per cent in April, this year and two per cent in March. But we will be happy if we can maintain last year's total arrival of 1.7 million from China though we are quite confident to get some growth by the year-end." Ong said this to Bernama after being a guest in Radio Televisyen Malaysia's 'Selamat Pagi Malaysia' programme, here, Wednesday.
He said the projected growth was achievable due to the overall number of Chinese visitors all over the world which was growing at a fast pace, hence the road to recovery in Malaysia could be even faster.
Meanwhile, Tourism Malaysia director-general Datuk Mirza Mohammad Taiyab said that one contribution to the decline of Chinese tourist arrivals in Malaysia was the disruption of promotions in China during the MH370 crisis.
"Because of the sensitivity, we suspended our promotions in our advertising in the international media, particularly in China because we didn't want to be there telling different things when everybody was concerned about the missing aircraft. "So when we suspended the promotions, that has an effect on people's awareness and interest in purchasing holiday packages to the country," he said to Bernama.
The Beijing-bound Boeing 777-200 airliner with 239 people onboard, including 153 Chinese nationals, went missing on March 8, an hour after taking off from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport. It was to have landed in Beijing at 6.30am the same day.
For April 2014, China ranked third with 132,158 arrivals in the Malaysia Tourist Arrivals by Country statistics, behind Singapore in first place and Indonesia in second. In April 2013, China was in the same rank with 164,175 arrivals.
Ong believes the good relations of 40 years between Malaysia and China could still draw tourists from China to Malaysia.
"I think we will pick up towards the later half of the year, as now we are starting to do the promotion and with the prime minister's visit to China, we trust that ties between these two countries will strengthen," he said.