Thursday, July 09, 2009

Tourism Ministry eyes 20m tourists this year to keep tills ringing

THE Tourism Ministry expects the upcoming Malaysia Mega Sale Carnival (MMSC) 2009 to do better than last year's event despite fears of the Influenza A (H1N1) outbreak and a gloomy economic environment.

Its Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said this is based on the rising number of tourist arrivals and the rise in spending especially on shopping.

"For the first four months of this year, tourist arrivals stood at 7.34 million, an increase of 3.4 per cent compared with 7.1 million in 2008," she said, without giving any sales target for MMSC this year.

Ng said although the virus outbreak has raised concerns among foreign tourists travelling into the country, the numbers are not alarming.

"Based on the statistics we have, we do notice travel cancellations but it is still under control," she said in a media briefing on the MMSC 2009 in Kuala Lumpur.

The 22.5 million tourists who visited Malaysia last year spent about RM48 billion, which is an improvement over 2007 when more than 20 million tourists spent about RM44 billion.

For this year, a positive Tourism Ministry is looking at least 20 million visitors to keep the tourism till ringing.

"Promoting Malaysia as a shopping hub in the region is a serious effort as it generates significant revenue for the country," she said.

Elaborating further on MMSC 2009, Ng said the event that is entering its 10th year, will run for eight weeks from July 4 offering more exciting bargains, discounts, promotions and activities.

It will be launched by the Prime Minister's wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor at Pavillion Kuala Lumpur on July 5.

Ng said the country's main target tourists are from the Middle East, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and Brunei.

"We expect an influx of the tourists to come from the Middle East as it's a holiday season there at this time of year," she said.

The country is also seeing more tourists from China and India as well as Australia, who previously shopped in Singapore, but now view Malaysia as an attractive place to shop due to better value and a lower exchange rate.

"Many still do not know that Malaysia is a duty free country for various items such as luxury watches," she said, noting that the country is ranked among the top shopping destinations in the region.

MasterCard, the official card for the event, is offering prizes worth a total of RM100,000 to lucky shoppers.

State level launches of MMSC 2009 will take place in Penang (July 8), Kota Baru (July 10), Kota Kinabalu (July 11), Johor Baru and Miri (July 18).

Source : Business TImes
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