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Monday, February 29, 2016
Tourism to make RM103bil
PETALING JAYA: More foreign tourists are expected to visit Malaysia this year due to the weakened ringgit, with an estimated RM103bil in revenue to be generated for the country.
Tourism Malaysia director-general Datuk Mirza Mohammad Taiyab said the ringgit’s depreciation would entice foreign tourists to choose Malaysia for its affordability and value-for-money factor.
“They will also get to stay longer and experience more of Malaysia at the same cost in their respective currencies,” he added.
Tourism Malaysia, he said, was intensifying promotions on growing potential markets, although there weren’t any major tourism campaigns this year.
“With the emergence of the open skies policy in the Asean region in conjunction with the Asean Economic Community, we can expect more Asean tourists to come to Malaysia, and we are focusing on these markets,” Mirza said.
He said Tourism Malaysia’s promotional efforts would also concentrate on year-round markets with big populations such as China and India, and the high-income Middle East markets by “penetrating into the fast-growing second-tier cities there”.
Malaysia is expected to receive over 30.5 million tourists this year. Tourist numbers dropped 9.4% between January and June last year.
A total of 12.5 million foreign visitor arrivals were recorded in the first half of last year compared to 13.9 million in the same period in 2014.
Airlines on their part are providing competitive fares and accessibility.
Firefly chief executive officer Ignatius Ong said the airline would provide the right fares and attractive promotional activities.
AirAsia recently launched flights from Guangzhou to Langkawi and Ho Chi Minh City to Penang.
“We have also added direct connectivity from Yangon to Penang, which begins in March, and we hope these routes will promote more travel and trade between both Asean cities,” AirAsia chief executive officer Aireen Omar said recently.
However, Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) inbound vice-president Datuk K.L. Tan said the relevant authorities and operators should not rely solely on a weak currency to bring in tourists.
“The current currency depre-ciation is not unique to Malaysia as more than 120 currencies globally have fallen against the US dollar.
“We still need to market our country aggressively as our neighbours are doing exactly that. Indonesia has tripled its budget for Tourism Indonesia.
“So is Thailand, with its never-ending innovation in marketing the country.
“Singapore has ensured that its tourism spots and products are always refreshed,” Tan added.
MATTA, on its part, is introducing world-class tourism vehicles, especially mini-buses and tour vans, to ferry tourists.
“This will attract more high-spending tourists to the country and raise the image of Malaysia,” Tan said.