Tourist numbers rise despite Sars


Despite the global outbreak of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Malaysia still retains its gleam as a travel-friendly destination. The general scenario in Malaysia is comparatively good and it is business as usual for the whole country.

In the sports arena, Malaysia successfully staged the Petronas Formula One Malaysian Grand Prix on March 21-23, a week after the WHO issued a global alert on SARS. Some 101,485 spectators from various countries turned up for the second leg of the Formula One World Championship.

Malaysia has also lined up numerous events such as the Colours of Malaysia which runs till June 27, Japan GT Championship on June 20-23, the Mount Kinabalu International

Climbathon on October 4-6, and the Organization of Islamic Conference on October 11-18.

Aimed at protecting the welfare of the Malaysian public and tourists, the government has undertaken various measures to confront the spread of SARS from becoming a major health crisis. The government's immediate priority is to ensure that Malaysia's health care system is fully prepared to contain the SARS threat.

The decisive action of the Malaysian government is in addition to the WHO guidelines to stringently screen every visitor from SARS infected countries namely China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Canada and Vietnam as identified by WHO, at every point of entry into the country to ensure that Malaysia is safe from SARS.

The Malaysian government has also set up a high level National Committee on SARS Control chaired by the Minister of Health aimed at taking proactive measures with regards to contain the threat of the disease. Despite the global fear on SARS, Malaysia continues to draw tourists from West Asia to its shores and to its various attractions. From January to March 2003, the number of tourists arrivals from the region was 26,641 of which 5,180 were from Saudi Arabia, 2,088 from Turkey, 1,667 from the UAE, 766 from Jordan, 1,149 from Kuwait, 2,346 from Lebanon, 7,292 from Syria and 1,762 from Oman.