NEW DELHI, Jan 31 (Bernama) -- Tourism Malaysia (TM) will take advantage of the Indian government's move to simplify the travel (passport) process for its nationals by intensifying the agency's promotion in India's Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities.
Its International Promotion Division senior director Datuk Musa Yusof said other than Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and New Delhi, TM had already identified other cities to promote Malaysia as a family leisure and shopping destination.
"These cities have potential as the next growth areas, where Indians can receive their passports within a week, compared to one to two months previously.
"Furthermore, India has been showing good GDP growth of seven to 7.5 per cent for the past few years with people here enjoying better purchasing power and traveling opportunities," he said.
He said other than traditional destinations in Peninsula Malaysia, TM would also step up efforts to promote tourist destinations in Sabah and Sarawak.
Speaking to Bernama in conjunction with the South Asia Travel and Tourism Exchange (SATTE) travel fair here at the Indian capital, he said about 770,100 Indians visited Malaysia in 2014 and 650,989 in 2013.
Malaysia earned RM2.2 billion and RM1.9 billion respectively from the arrivals, which was a growth of 18.3 per cent.
Only 539,820 arrivals were recorded between January and September 2015, a decrease of four per cent compared to the same period in 2014.
Musa attributed the drop to two incidents involving MH370 and MH17, as well as the world economic slowdown.
"However, India is still among the top 10 tourist generating markets for Malaysia and TM is working closely with local tour operators and regional airlines to bring in more visitors from this sub-continent (India, Bagladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Maldives)," he added.
He said Malaysia Airlines, AirAsia and Malindo provide a total of 172 flights weekly to Malaysia.
Meanwhile, a member of TM's Board of Directors, Datuk Daljit Singh Dalliwal who headed the Malaysian delegation to the 23th edition of SATTE, said 63 million Indians hold valid passports and are therefore considered potential tourists to Malaysia.
"Even though our budget has been slashed by one third compared to last year by the ministry, we already restrategised ourselves with minimum funding with better tourist arrivals," he added.