Singapore, Nov 4 (ANI): With an ambitious target of 30 million tourist arrivals and tourist receipts of USD24 billion next year, Malaysian tourism officials have been busy promoting its fifth Visit Malaysia Year (VM2020) in various Asian cities. The benchmark has been set by the last "Visit Malaysia Year" in 2014 that saw a significant spike in visitors to the Southeast Asian nation.
The emphasis for the current campaign is on promoting Malaysia as a value-for-moneyeco-tourism destination along with its arts and culture with marketing efforts focused on digitaland various social media platforms.
Their latest stop was in Osaka, Japan, in October, where a delegation of 35 officials led by Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Datuk MohamaddinKetapi, attended Tourism Expo Japan (TEJ 2019).
"Datuk" is a Malaysian honorific title, which some equate to a knighthood.
394,540 Japanese tourists visited Malaysia in 2018, ranking them as the ninth largest group of tourists from a country. They spent a total of USD 400 million which was 37 per cent higher than the previous year. From January to July this year, visitors from Japan numbered 231,831 an increase of 5.9 per cent from the same period in 2018.
India is the sixth-largest source of travellers to Malaysia with 600,311 arrivals in 2018. Together they spent USD 650 million. For the first 6 months of this year, there were 354,000 visitors from India, an increase of 15.2 per cent compared with the same period last year.
Earlier this year, a tourism delegation from Malaysia visited four Indian cities - Chennai, Madurai, Coimbatore and Cochin. The delegation consisted of representatives from 21 travel agents, airlines, hotels and product owners and included officials from the Malaysia Association of Tours and Travel Agents (MATTA) and the Sarawak Tourism Board. The aim of the visit was to provide a networking opportunity for travel industries of both countries including travel agents, tourism associations and the media to promote Malaysia as a travel destination. At the same time, it was also hoped that some deals can be stuck between buyers and sellers of tourism products and services.
Currently, a total of 237 flights connect 14 cities in India directly to Malaysia, offering approximately 45,000 seats per week. Ease of connectivity is the key in boosting tourism.
Seven per cent of the population or over 2 million people of Indian origin are living in Malaysia. That Malaysia presents Indian visitors with a familiar environment and culture, plus easy availability of "comfort food" should alone make it an attractive destination for Indian travellers especially for those going abroad for the first time.
Malaysia also has a wide variety of destinations and experiences to cater for different travellers. Besides pristine beaches, rainforests, national parks and historic sites, there are theme parks and mountain resorts of Genting Highlands, Frasers Hill and Cameron Highlands where one can experience cooler temperatures amidst a tropic country. For trekking enthusiasts, there are various trails in the different nature reserves to try. For the more adventurous, they can attempt climbing Mount Kinabalu, the highest peak in Southeast Asia at 4,095 metres. There are also coral reefs and various interesting dive sites for divers. And for animal lovers, on Borneo, the island where the states of Sabah and Sarawak are located, there are various wildlife sanctuaries. Here is where you can find the orangutans, the ape made famous by the Clint Eastwood movie "Every Which Way But Loose". Orangutans are native to only Borneo and Sumatra.
More than 1.4 million Indians visited neighbouring Singapore in 2018 compared with the 600,311 who visited Malaysia. This shows that there is much more room to grow to promote tourism among Indians to Malaysia especially since Malaysia has a more diverse range of attractions compared with Singapore.
At the Chennai stop of the promotional tour, Mr Muhammad Taib Ibrahim, Tourism Malaysia Senior Director addressed concerns about the bane of many Indian travellers, saying, "in terms of visa, the Malaysian government always facilitates Indian tourists' entry with ease, since the introduction of eNTRI and eVISA," he added. He further indicated that they are considering implementing visa-on-arrival for VM2020.
eNTRI and eVISA are Malaysian online electronic application platforms for visitors to entering Malaysia. eNTRI is specially designed for Indian Nationals and permits a one-time maximum stay of 15 days, usually taking only 24 hours to process.
International arrivals to Malaysia grew at a rate of 4.9 per cent for the first 6 months of the year from 12.7 million to 13.4 million with tourist receipts of USD13.7 billion. 2018 saw 25.8 million arrivals and tourism-related expenditure at USD20.2 billion. The corresponding figures for 2017 were 25.95 million and USD19.7 billion.
For the first half of 2019, Asia-Pacific continues to dominate Malaysia's foreign arrivals at 70 per cent, accounting for six of the top 10 international tourist source markets. Arrivals from Singapore topped the list with 5.4 million tourists, followed by Indonesia (1.9 million), China (1.6 million), Thailand (990,565), Brunei (627,112), India (354,486), South Korea (323,952), the Philippines (210,974), Vietnam (200,314) and Japan (196,561).
The top five countries with the highest expenditure per capita were Saudi Arabia at USD2,731, the United Kingdom at USD1,258, Canada at USD4,593, China at USD1,091 and the United States at USD1,089.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)