JUST four months into Visit Malaysia 2007, the nation is already off to a good start.
Not only are tourists happily thronging the country, but the main man behind the campaign, Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor is also pleased with the campaign’s progress.
“I cannot single out one event which I am most proud of, I consider all of the events held so far as successful,” he said.
“So far, 3,101,691 tourists from all over the world have arrived in Malaysia in January and February,” said Tengku Adnan, adding that figure showed an increase of 9.1% for both months last year.
Satisfied with the statistics thus far, he is also confident of hitting VMY 2007’s target of 20.1 million visitors.
“Even the Eye On Malaysia has an average of 3,000 people enjoying the ride every day,” he said with pride of the 60-metre-high ferris wheel in Titiwangsa Lake Gardens which offers panoramic views of Kuala Lumpur.
Meanwhile, around 50,000 tourist packages have been snapped up for the Malaysia International Aerospace Adventure, which will be held in June.
The highlight of the aerospace exhibition is the US$2bil (RM6.8bil) Russian BURAN Space Shuttle, which took less than a minute to be launched into space.
Citing the recent Petronas Malaysian F1 Grand Prix race held in Sepang as another example, Tengku Adnan said the event was well received and among the spectators were visitors who booked 1,500 tourist packages from India alone.
Others were from Indonesia where 1,000 packages were booked.
The Flora Fest in January saw a Floral Parade with 18 decorated floats and 19 marching bands taking part.
The Penang state government’s float, themed Wings of Dream, emerged the winner.
Tengku Adnan added that the month-long National Water Festival, launched on April 6, had also received positive feedback from foreigners and locals alike.
“Some domestic tourists are really happy with this unique festival. They even said that they didn’t mind being basah kuyup (thoroughly wet) to join in the fun,” he said.
The festival included water-related activities such as an international fishing tournament, an extreme kayaking competition and a 5.4km swimming challenge to Pulau Papan and back to Labuan.
Recent statistics from the Immigration Department showed that the number one country frequenting our shores is none other than our neighbour, Singapore.
Singaporeans topped the list of foreign tourists with a record of 830,700 in January, followed by Thailand (123,634) and Indonesia (151,636).
When asked what he thought was Malaysia’s lure to the tourists, Tengku Adnan said that it was our country’s harmonious disposition.
“We are a very safe and peaceful country compared to other places in the surrounding region. There is neither social unrest nor fear among the people and that is why people love to come here,” he said, adding that Malaysia is a “value for money” destination.
“Our country also has very good infrastructure, and everywhere is easily accessible.
“If tourists want to go to the mountains or rivers, all they need is take a two-hour drive,” he said, noting that Malaysia was voted the world’s best tourist destination last year by 13,653 readers of US business travel magazine, Global Traveller.
This VMY 2007 has around 240 events lined up to commemorate Malaysia’s 50th year of independence.
The golden jubilee marks an important milestone in the nation’s development and Tengku Adnan thinks that this year’s celebration would be more special.
“People can expect something different this year since it is our 50th anniversary,” he said, adding that the Culture, Arts and Heritage Ministry is also working on a list of events to celebrate Independence Day as Aug 31 draws closer.
“Aside from state-level celebrations and the yearly Merdeka parade, people can also look forward to the Malaysia International Fireworks Competition which will be held from mid-August onwards,” he said.
The fireworks competition will see countries from all over the world competing to come up with the most beautiful and brilliant sparks in the sky.
Coming soon is also the Colours of Malaysia celebration kicking off on May 26, which will entice tourists, with its showcase of local culture and food delicacies.
Parades and musical performances around the country are set to expose foreigners to our unique culture.
Tengku Adnan hoped that VMY 2007 would receive warm response and support from the locals.
“I thank all Malaysians for supporting the campaign so far, and I hope they will continue to participate in the events that are lined up,” he said.
“As for foreign tourists, I hope you will enjoy your time here and do come back again.”
Source : STAR
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