MALAYSIA Tanah Tumpah Darahku


Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Tourism picks up, minister cautions against 'slaughtering customers


Foreign tourist arrivals in Malaysia from January to March 2024 marked a 32.5 percent increase compared to the same period last year.

Sharing the figures at an event in Kuala Lumpur this evening, Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Tiong King Sing said Malaysia welcomed 5.8 million tourists in the first three months.

According to him, the top 10 tourist-generating markets were Singapore, Indonesia, China, Thailand, Brunei, India, South Korea, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Philippines.

In February, Tiong sparked a controversy after he had demoted Tourism Malaysia director-general Ammar Abd Ghapar on the grounds that he could not perform the task of attracting tourists to Malaysia.

Following this, the directors of the tourism promotion board (Tourism Malaysia) came out to support Tiong and his strategic changes.

The minister, who was speaking at the Tourism Malaysia Strategic Direction Toward VM2026 Networking Session, said the 30-day visa exemption for tourists from China and India has proven to boost tourist arrivals.

“Hence, visa facilitation alongside improved accessibility and flight connectivity as well as adding additional routes via chartered flights are integral parts of the strategies to attract around 36 million tourist arrivals and generate RM150 billion in tourist receipts for VM (Visit Malaysia) 2026,” he added.

Tiong also urged all those involved in the tourism sector, including hotels, restaurants as well as hawker stalls not to hike their prices.

“When you have more business picking up, please don’t take this opportunity to slaughter your customers.

“We received so many complaints about pricing that is too high,” he said, adding that such actions would drive away tourists.

At the same time, Tiong, who thanked hotels for their contribution during the Covid-19 pandemic, appealed to them to consider “upgrading and doing renovation”.

“We have also highlighted in the cabinet that we want the Bank Pembangunan to be aggressive in carrying out all the assistance or giving loans to the people in the tourism industry if needed.

“If they are still very slow, we will engage other commercial banks to take over. The Finance Ministry will chair a meeting to resolve your problems or any difficulties you are facing.

“The government has a reserve of RM1 billion for the tourism industry for upgrading,” he added.

Tiong also hoped that Tourism Malaysia would organise engagement sessions with the related industries three to four times a year to understand their requirements.

Strategies to move forward

“Today, we are talking about strategies on how to move forward to 2026, but we also want this to continue forever and in the future. How to develop and how we can grow together for the betterment of Malaysia,” he said, apologising for any shortcomings of “my ministry, Tourism Malaysia, any of my staff, including myself”.

Stressing on further growth, Tiong quoted Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim as stating, “If Thailand can do it, why can’t Malaysia do it.”

“We should put our hands together and work as a team, we must strive to be at least on par with Thailand,” he added.

Earlier, Reuters reported that Thailand recorded 11.95 million foreign tourist arrivals from January to April 28,

Foreign tourism generated US$15.52 billion (RM74.03 billion) in that period and the country is expecting to see some 40 million foreign visitors this year. - Mkini

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