The sights and sounds of Malaysia mesmerised a gathering of Jordanian travel industry players Sunday night, as the Southeast Asian nation continued to canvass the Middle East region to boost tourism revenue.
The crowd had a taste of what Malaysia had to offer at a gala dinner featuring a pulsating and colourful cultural performance and video presentation organised by Tourism Malaysia in conjunction with its roadshow to Jordan, on the heels of the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2009, which concluded in Dubai Friday.
The event at Le Royal Amman hotel in the Jordanian capital followed a presentation on Malaysia's tourism sector and a news conference presided over by Tourism Malaysia deputy director-general for planning Azizan Noordin.
Those present, including representatives from some 30 Jordanian travel agencies as well as members of the media, "oohed" and "ahhed" at a series of video clips highlighting a plethora of attractions and activities that could be enjoyed by visitors to Malaysia.
The guests of honour were Malaysian ambassador to Jordan Datuk Abdul Malek Abdul Aziz and Jordan Tourism Board managing director Nayef H. Al-Fayez.
Clearly elated over the response from the Jordanian tourism players and the media to Tourism Malaysia's initiative, Azizan said the agency would organise familiarisation trips to Malaysia for them in the near future.
"We want them to see other parts of Malaysia besides Kuala Lumpur and Genting Highlands -- places like Penang, Langkawi, Terengganu, Johor, Melaka as well as Sabah and Sarawak," he told Bernama after the show.
He said the Jordanian Tourism Board was also keen on sending its officers to Tourism Malaysia's headquarters in Kuala Lumpur to learn more about Malaysia's tourism strategies, as well to look into possible avenues for cooperation between both sides.
Malaysia welcomed 7,807 tourists from Jordan in 2008 compared with 5,196 the previous year.
Azizan said Tourism Malaysia was targeting 6,000 visitors from this Arab nation in 2009, a slight dip due to the current global economic downturn that has affected travel demand worldwide.
During the news conference and presentation, Azizan said that from mainly shopping and sightseeing, Malaysia's tourism products had evolved over the years to include niche products like the homestay programme, Malaysia My Second Home, ecotourism, health tourism as well as education.
The consummate promoter of Malaysia also drew the attention of his audience to the easy availability of halal food and the efforts being made to persuade Arab tourists to visit Malaysia, even during the Ramadan fasting month which falls this year during peak holiday and travel periods in the Middle East.
Azizan said that while Malaysia was pushing for more tourist arrivals from Jordan, Malaysians too, especially the umrah crowd had been visiting places of religious significance in Jordan.
"We should not view each other as rivals as it'd be better if we could complement one another, like undertaking joint promotion efforts similar to the ones involving Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore," he said.
Increased interaction between Malaysia and Jordan would not only be positive for tourism but would also be favourable to other fields like trade and investment, education and health, he added.
Malaysian educational institutions have attracted over 70,000 foreign students, including 21,000 from the Middle East.
Health tourism, another niche product, saw the participation of over 189,000 foreign patients in 2008, of which 3,879 were from the Middle East.
Meanwhile, Malaysia Airlines regional general manager Merina Abu Tahir said the carrier had no plans for now to mount direct flights between Kuala Lumpur and Amman.
"Not at the moment. We need to look at the demand, our network and balancing with capacity projections for the Middle East," she said.
The next and final stop of the Tourism Malaysia roadshow in the Middle East is Syria.
Source : Bernama
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