The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) inbound vice president, Tan Kok Liang, has welcomed the government’s allocation of RM400 million (US$96.1 million) for clean air and ecotourism initiatives.
In tabling Budget 2017, Malaysian prime minister Mohammad Najib Abdul Razak acknowledged that the tourism sector has contributed significantly to the country's economy. The government is now targeting 32 million visitors for next year, which is expected to generate RM120 billion (US$28.84 billion) in tourism receipts.
Tan said: "Capitalising on our clean air and promoting activities like walking or trekking tours will attract tourists from countries with high pollution index, such as China and India. These two Asian giants are also the biggest contributors of visitor arrivals to Malaysia, excluding our ASEAN neighbours.
"We should repackage and rebrand our tours so that tourists can enjoy our clean air when engaging in outdoor activities. Jungle and mountain resorts such as Taman Negara and Kinabalu National Park, together with many of our clean cities and towns throughout the country, will benefit from these initiatives and ought to be heavily promoted.”
He added that travellers from Europe also visit Malaysia mainly for ecotourism and that investing in this sector would ensure sustained interest from the longhaul source market.