In line with the 1Malaysia concept, priority should be given towards community-based tourism so that every Malaysian can enjoy the fruits of development through it, said Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen.
She said tourism programmes ought not only benefit industry players but also the poor, marginalised and the disadvantaged.
"By working together, we can deliver better outcomes for the people and develop into a more resilient and competitive tourism industry to overcome this turbulent period," said Dr Ng in a keynote address titled "Towards a sustainable and thriving tourism" at the National Tourism Seminar 2009 here on Tuesday.
Her speech was read by the ministry's Secretary-General Datuk Dr Ong Hong Peng.
Dr Ng said the ministry was now empowering the rural folks through various programmes such as homestay thereby enabling them not only to let out their rooms but more importantly to offer an authentic unique experience to tourists.
"It allows villagers to augment their income without much capital investment," she said.
Dr Ng said despite the global tourism slump in mid-2008 due high fuel prices and now with influenza A(H1N1) pandemic, the overall impact on Malaysia had been minimal because the government in collaboration with the private sector tackled the crisis head on.
"Although the world tourist arrivals and receipts started to experience a downturn in late 2008, tourist arrivals in Malaysia increased by 5.1 percent to 22.05 million last year, compared to the 20.9 million in 2007. The first quarter of 2009 showed a positive growth of 2.2 percent in tourist arrivals compared to corresponding period in 2008.
In April, we recorded an increase of seven percent in tourist arrivals," she said and added, the influenza A(H1N1) pandemic had an impact on tourists arrivals in Malaysia whereby a marginal negative growth of 0.3 percent in May was recorded.
However, in June tourist arrivals recorded an impressive growth of 7.5 percent despite an increase in confirmed H1N1 cases, she said.
Thus for the first seven months of this year, Malaysia recorded a growth with a total of 13.35 million tourist arrivals compared to 12.89 million for the same period in 2008.
Dr Ng said in the the moves to ensure that the tourism products meet certain standards, the minister is conducting an audit of tourism products to the Innovation Centre of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia.
"The results of the auditing are presented to the stakeholders with a view to improve the tourism products," she said.
Source : Bernama
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