The closures, according to Malaysia’s tourism and culture minister Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz, were to avoid job duplication with state agencies and result in monetary savings for the government.
“Although all Tourism Malaysia offices will be closed, we will create five information offices – in Penang for the northern region, Terengganu for the eastern region, Johor for the southern region, and Sabah and Sarawak,” said Mohamed Nazri, who was quoted as saying in Bernama.
Urging the better utilisation of resources, Uzaidi Udanis, president of Malaysian Inbound Tourism Association, suggested: “The affected staff could be relocated to do enforcement work. There is a dire need for better enforcement to curb illegal taxis, and illegal travel agents operating without licenses. There is a lack of enforcement officers.”
An inbound agent, Ally Bhoonee, executive director at World Avenues, told TTG Asia: “This move will not affect international promotions because we deal with the head office directly and not with the state. I don’t think domestic tourism will suffer as the state tourism boards are there to promote the state.”
Meanwhile, Sam Cheah, president of the Malaysian Association of Hotels, hopes the savings of RM6 million (US$1.4 million) will be used on international promotions to further increase the number of tourist arrivals into Malaysia.
Tourism Malaysia is also in the midst of closing its offices in Los Angeles, New York, Stockholm and Johannesburg to consolidate its marketing activities into more effective markets where there are direct flights.