Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen was greeted by a scorching 38-degree Celsius weather when she landed here Monday, and promptly declared that more Qataris should consider escaping the heat by holidaying in tropical Malaysia.
Nevertheless, she conceded that awareness about Malaysia among the Qataris was still low and steps must be taken to address the situation.
"I view my presence in Doha as the beginning of the discovery of Malaysia by the people of Qatar," she told a news conference in the Qatari capital Monday night in conjunction with Tourism Malaysia's roadshow to bring in more travellers from this Gulf nation.
Malaysia welcomed about 5,000 tourist arrivals from Qatar last year compared with 7,808 in 2008.
Dr Ng said Malaysia offered a value-for-money proposition to tourists.
Elaborating on her experience with Doha's hot weather, the minister said: "Now I fully understand why people from the Gulf countries need to go somewhere less hot during the summer months."
The mercury in this Gulf state could reach over 40-degree Celsius in the summer months.
"And green Malaysia is the best place to go for a vacation," she said as she extolled the virtues of spending a holiday in the Southeast Asian nation representing a cauldron of cultures of over 27 million people. Dr Ng said that nature was the biggest strength of Malaysia, a country blessed with beaches and jungles along with 54 marine parks.
"As I flew in this morning, I could see that you have the sea and sand but you don't have trees," she noted.
The minister underlined that Malaysia was the place to go for honeymoons as well as leisure holidays and health tourism.
At the news conference, she also launched holiday packages to Malaysia offered by Doha-based tour agency Unique Choice, which was represented by its executive director, Walter Dias.
Present were Tourism Malaysia's deputy director-general for planning Azizan Noordin and Tuan Razali Tuan Omar, the agency's Dubai-based director.
Dr Ng said visitors from Qatar should feel at home in Malaysia, a modern Muslim nation where halal food was easily available along with mosques for prayers.
Malaysia had over 400 four- and five-star hotels, with Kuala Lumpur alone offering more than 64,000 rooms, she said.
Accessibility should not be a problem, she observed, as Qatar Airways and a host of other Middle Eastern airlines were flying to Malaysia.
Despite 2009 being a challenging year for global tourism industry, Malaysia managed to attract 284,980 Arab visitors with a growth of 7.8 per cent over 2008, at 264,338. The target for 2010 is 300,000.
Soon after arrival in Doha, Dr Ng toured the waterfront Museum of Islamic Art and visited other interesting locations in the city.
Tourism Malaysia is hosting the Malaysia Gala Dinner at the Four Seasons Doha hotel Tuesday night in conjunction with the roadshow.
Doha is the second and final leg of Tourism Malaysia's roadshow following the conclusion of the Arabian Travel Market 2010 in Dubai on May 7.
Dr Ng led the tourism promotion agency's roadshow in Kuwait on May 8-9.
Source : Bernama
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