Wednesday, August 26, 2009

No decrease in number of tourists

An increased interest among foreign visitors in local tourism products and packages is an indication that the tourism sector can generate revenue worth RM200mil this year.

Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said Malaysia’s rich flora and fauna, and diversified cultures, were the main attractions enticing foreign tourists. Dr Ng said the ministry with the co-operation of state governments, would go all out to aggressively promote Malaysia’s uniqueness to countries such as China, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Europe.

“Despite the outbreak of A(H1N1) flu, the number of visitors entering the country recorded an increase in July to 2,003,724 people compared to 1,928,082 in the same month last year. For the first seven months this year, 13,350,168 people visited Malaysia compared to 12,891,202 in the same period last year, an increase of 3.6%.

“Statistics also show that tourists from Japan were the highest with 216,680 people and this is a good sign that the Japanese have a strong interest in our tourism products,” she said after launching the website of Malaysia Village Homestay Association and witnessing the signing of a memorandum of understanding between homestay and tour operators in Sungai Pasu near here recently.

Also present were the association’s chairman Sahariman Hamdan and the Malaysia Japanese Association secretary Arai Takuji.

Dr Ng, who is also Raub MP, hoped homestay operators would give due emphasis to rebranding their products on the global scale as it had good potential to generate income for rural folks. She said the ethnic, cultural and religious diversity coupled with a rich natural environment and good infrastructure would provide the right formula to ensure visitors enjoyed their stay.

“For the first six months, the village homestay concept has generated RM4,886,437 in revenue for the operators all over the country. To-date, we have 140 operators nationwide involving 227 traditional villages with 4,512 rooms available,” she said.

Dr Ng urged the operators to be more organised in their activities and professional in their operations by creating a guest registration book for proper records. She said based on feedback from overseas roadshows and promotional campaigns, the concept had attracted strong interest among foreigners.

She said among the reasons given by foreigners on why Malaysia was their choice destination were its peacefulness, friendly people, comfortable accommodation and good food. “Efforts are also in place to promote education and health tourism to foreigners since facilities in both sectors are of international standard,” she said.

Meanwhile, Takuji said the homestay programmes were very popular among Japanese since the 1990s and was one of the top five choices back home. He said many schools and associations involved in exchange programmes chose to take part in homestay activities.

“Many of our students will make a return trip here after completing their tertiary education,” he said.

Source : STAR
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