Tourist arrivals in the country increased by 3.6 per cent in the first seven months of this year from 12.89 million arrivals registered in the same period last year, despite the global Influenza A(H1N1) pandemic and economic downturn.
Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said there were 13.35 million tourist arrivals from January to July this year.
"The arrival figures are a testament that despite the global H1N1 pandemic, people still can enjoy a holiday and at the same time take precautions to avoid being infected," she said in her speech at the launching of the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) Fair, here, Friday.
Her speech was read out by Tourism Malaysia director-general Datuk Mirza Mohammad Taiyab.
Dr Ng said: "Even though the current situation discourages people from being in any crowded area, there are still places we can go to release stress from our hectic daily life.
"The influenza pandemic should not be the reason to halt all travelling, especially for those who are healthy and not among the high-risk groups," she said.
Dr Ng hoped the Matta Fair would continue to play an important role in stimulating more domestic travel and promoting the Cuti-Cuti Malaysia travel packages.
"This is very important as it is in line with the goverment's objective of promoting more domestic travel. From past experience, we have found that it is the domestic travellers who have really helped to sustain our tourism industry, especially in times of crises," she said.
Dr Ng also urged travel operators to look at the possibility of promoting the homestay programme in every state, and the government had been very committed in this area, with a special fund having been allocated for the upgrading of facilities at these homes.
The five-day Matta Fair which kicked off today, showcases 830 booths of 170 exhibitors comprising airlines, hotels, resorts, tour operators, travel agencies and other tourism-related companies at the Putra World Trade Centre here.
Source : Bernama
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