MALAYSIA will roll out the red carpet to woo more tourists in a $56 million, year-long drive to further diversify its manufacturing-led economy, the country’ tourism minister said.
Amid concerns over security, rising crime and the perennial haze problem, the Southeast Asian nation hopes some 200 special events will help lure a record 20.1 million tourists in the Visit Malaysia Year campaign which starts in January, Reuters reported.
If successful, arrival figures will be around 15 per cent higher compared to 2006, but officials conceded that competition from other emerging markets, such as Vietnam, could intensify.
“This is a bit worrying for us,” Tourism Minister Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor told reporters as he announced the January 6 launch of the drive. “They also have things to show.”
Malaysia will showcase some 200 events, including floral parades and displaying a used Russian space shuttle, during the campaign which coincides with the nation’s 50th anniversary of independence.
A multi-racial country of palm-fringed beaches and virgin jungles, Malaysia hopes to attract visitors mainly from Southeast Asia, China, India and the Middle East, Tengku Adnan said.
The predicted influx would help offset the decline in the number of high-spending American and European tourists, turned away by security concerns, industry officials said. As for the annual haze problem, caused by forest fires, Tengku Adnan said Malaysian and Indonesian governments were working closely to prevent the choking smog from returning next year.
Tourism is Malaysia’s largest foreign-exchange earner after manufacturing, which accounts for 31 per cent of the economy.