GEORGE TOWN, Aug 3 (Bernama) -- Despite the disappearance of the Malaysia Airlines (MAS) flight MH370 and the MH17 tragedy, the Tourism and Culture Ministry is still confident of achieving the target of 28 million tourist arrivals to Malaysia this year.
Its minister, Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz said Malaysia succeeded in recording an increase of 11 per cent in tourist arrivals in the first quarter of this year compared with the corresponding period of last year.
He said the rise had given confidence to the ministry that the target of 28 million tourist arrivals this year could be achieved despite the incidents over the loss of the MAS aircraft and the air crash in Donetsk, in the eastern region of Ukraine last month.
"The tourist arrival record for April also saw an increase of 10.9 per cent compared to the corresponding period of last year," he told reporters after a visit, here Sunday. Nazri said preliminary figures on tourist arrivals for May also showed an increase of more than 10 per cent compared to the figure for May last year.
However, the minister did not deny that the incidents over the abduction of foreign nationals in Sabah had given an impact particularly to Chinese tourists. Nazri said the number of tourists from China to Malaysia had dropped by 30 per cent in April and May. "In my opinion, most of the Chinese tourists are more afraid of the abduction cases and this has given a negative impact on Chinese tourists regarding Sabah," he said.
However, he said the drop in the number of Chinese tourists in the past two months was offset by the increased presence of tourists from Asean, United Kingdom and Europe such as Germany and France.
He said efforts to attract back tourists from China had been initiated and would have positive impact at the end of the year.
Nazri said during the visit of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to China in conjunction with the 40th anniversary of Malaysia-China diplomatic relations, the Chinese Prime Minister, Li Keqiang had assured Najib that there would be China-Malaysia flights every day beginning June this year for 130 days. The minister said the move would help to win back the confidence of Chinese tourists in visiting Malaysia.