The matter was raised by a Syrian journalist during a news conference ahead of a gala dinner organised in conjunction with Tourism Malaysia's roadshow to this Syrian capital.
Azizan reckoned that sufficient funds should be allocated for the sector, including for global advertising campaign.
It would also be good for Syria to garner more information about its tourism markets and draw up strategies that suit those markets.
"For example, if your market is France, then you need to have an adequate number of French-speaking guides," he said.
He said Syria should highlight and capitalise on its wonderful tourist attractions that might have been unknown to outsiders all these years.
In addition, the Syrian tourism authorities could constantly participate in international tourism shows with a view to boosting the country's profile abroad, he added.
Azizan pointed out that in 2008, Malaysia drew 22.05 million visitors, including 264,338 arrivals from the Middle East, generating RM49.56 billion (US$13.76 billion) in receipts.
Malaysia hopes to attract 250,000 visitors from the Middle East in 2009.
Azizan said Tourism Malaysia was willing to forge cooperation with the Syrian tourism authorities as he felt that countries should complement rather than view each other as rivals as far as the tourism sector was concerned.
He also said that the Syrian Tourism Ministry should embark on an initiative to lure Malaysians to visit Syria.
Speaking to Bernama later, he said Tourism Malaysia was happy to share its experience in tourism promotion with other interested parties.
On another matter, he said Emirates Airlines was likely to increase the number of seats to Kuala Lumpur during the coming summer season.
Malaysia Enthralls Syrians With Rousing Cultural Show
A rousing Malaysian cultural performance brought the house down during a gala dinner organised by Tourism Malaysia here Tuesday night in conjunction with its roadshow to Syria, aimed at drawing more visitors to Malaysia.
Clad in colourful costumes and headgear, the dancers from Pak Ngah Production brought Malaysian culture to the fore during the show at a leading hotel in the Syrian capital, much to the delight of the packed ballroom comprising Syrian travel industry players and media representatives.
Damascus, along with the Jordanian capital, Amman, had been chosen by Tourism Malaysia for the roadshow conducted on the heels of the Arabian Travel Market 2009 which concluded in Dubai on Friday.
Tourism Malaysia deputy director-general Azizan Noordin told Bernama that tourism players in the two cities appeared to be excited about Malaysia.
"We have to stay focused on the West Asian market which has good potential for the Malaysian tourism sector," he said.
Tourism Malaysia brought more than a dozen hoteliers and travel agents to the two Middle Eastern cities to take part in travel marts where buyers or potential partners could meet them directly.
"I think that our presence has had an impact as the people in both countries can glean the excitement that is in store for visitors to Malaysia," said Azizan.
Malaysia received 4,838 visitors from Syria in 2008 and in the first four months this year, 1,610 Syrians came to Malaysia.
The Southeast Asian nation hopes to attract some 6,000 Syrian visitors in 2009.
This year, Malaysia is focusing on niche products, including luxury vacation, golf and Malaysia My Second Home in the high-end segment, as well as education tourism, health tourism, horse riding and diving.
Azizan said Tourism Malaysia would pay closer attention to markets like Lebanon, Iran, Egypt and Kuwait.
"We need to step up promotion activities in Lebanon. As it is, there are already direct flights between Kuala Lumpur and Beirut. For Iran, the peak holiday period is in March.
"Perhaps the year end would be the best time for us to visit the two countries."
He said the Malaysian tourism promotion agency would also be working closely with international airlines with a view to increasing direct flights to Malaysia.
Azizan also called on Malaysian tourism industry players to continuously support Tourism Malaysia's initiatives.
"We need good teamwork. Tourism Malaysia is promoting products belonging to other people. So the owners of the products, like travel agents and hoteliers, should come on board and support us," he said.
He also said that all Malaysian tourism stakeholders should strive to improve the quality of service to foreign visitors as well as domestic travellers.
Source : Bernama
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