This was shown by a 3.6 percent increase between January and July this year to 13.35 million arrivals compared to 12.89 million in the same time last year, said Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen.
"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 read by Tourism Malaysia director-general Datuk Mirza Mohamad Taiyab during the launch of MATTA Fair 2009 Friday.
She added that the influenza should not be a reason to halt all travel especially by those who were healthy and not in the high risk groups of contracting the virus.
Dr Ng also told the national travel association to take a stronger role in developing local travel and holiday packages.
She said that future fairs should consider allocating 50 percent booth space to promote domestic holidays, up from the current 35 percent.
"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 crisis," she said.
MATTA caretaker president and fair adviser Ngiam Foon said the fair was all about stimulating travel through low prices while price-conscious customers were discerning enough to get deals that were value-for-money as well.
"The prices are ridiculously low. You may go to the Fair without intention to buy. But after seeing the prices, you will end up buying," he said.
He added that the pandemic influenza would not have a major impact on sales because most travellers were aware of the precautions they needed to take to avoid getting infected.
"They're discerning, educated and know how to take personal responsibility for their health. They are cautious but they like to travel because many Malaysians have not traveled much this year," he said.
There are 830 booths and 15 foreign tourism organisation including airlines, tour and cruise operators at the fair.
The public only need to pay a RM3 fee per entry to the fair which opens from 10am to 9pm until Sunday.
Source : STAR
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