The five-day Berlin Tourism Fair opened on Tuesday with a large Malaysian delegation headed by Tourism Malaysia deputy director-general Azizan Noordin aggressively courting tourists.
The delegation comprised representatives of 25 travel and tour operating agents, 25 hotels, four states (Terengganu, Penang, Langkawi and Sabah) and Malaysia Airlines and its sister airline, FireFly.
Azizan said Malaysia was eyeing the European tourism market because it held promise of providing business for Malaysia.
On an overall basis, Europe accounted for some 5.1 per cent growth in traffic to Malaysia in 2009 over 2008.
"We would like to further enhance our promotion efforts in the European market which posted good growth last year. Germany alone accounted for a 15 per cent growth with 128,228 tourists last year," Azizan said in an interview with Bernama at the Berlin exhibition hall.
Malaysia's huge pavilion consists of a large space filled with individual tables for each of the exhibitors to receive potential customers and discuss business in private.
The pavilion replicates Malaysia's landscape, depicting its natural setting as much as its contemporary landmarks.
Since the exhibition hall 26, where Malaysia and other Asean states are located, is bursting at the seams, Malaysia's pavilion has been expanded vertically -- it has an added upper storey where the staff of Tourism Malaysia can receive important visitors.
Malaysia is given good chances of attracting visitors from Europe, many of whom love its sandy beaches, flora and fauna, the night life in big cities such as Kuala Lumpur, culture and cuisine and the general warmth and hospitality of the people.
"Malaysia is an exciting place to visit even though some German news media have been incessantly highlighting some negative developments taking place in that country such as the recent caning of the three Muslim women who allegedly violated the Islamic laws," said Reinhard Berger, a Bavarian businessman who regularly visits Asian countries and claims to be "madly in love" with Borneo's fauna and flora.
Nevertheless, Malaysia has also benefited from a number of developments taking place in its neighbourhood, such as the Jakarta bombings and the Thai political upheavals, prompting many tourists to turn, instead, to Malaysia to spend part of their vacation there.
Like other Southeast Asian nations, Malaysia's attractiveness is greatly enhanced if it is offered as one of two destinations, the other being either Thailand, Singapore or Indonesia.
However, Azizan said that Malaysia was now graduating to the next level of tourism, where it was also interested in promoting luxury tours, cruise tourism, Malaysia My Second Home tourism, contemporary arts tourism."
With an eye on promoting contemporary arts, Malaysia is also hosting a gala evening on March 12, where Malaysian female conductor Ooi Chean-see will conduct a show which blends classical with ethnic Malaysian elements.
Source : Bernama
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