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Focus on conventions to draw more visitors Print E-mail
Thursday, 04 December 2008 23:42

PUTRAJAYA: Additional strategies, including boosting convention and exhibition services, will be put in place to attract more visitors to the country next year in the face of the global economic downturn and security uncertainties.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said the otherFrom NSTmeasures were to improve the "Malaysia My Second Home" programme for foreigners interested in settling down here and promoting eco-tourism in a bigger way.

A Convention and Exhibition Bureau would be set up with an initial grant of RM5 million to serve as a one-stop-centre in coordinating activities to turn the country into a convention and exhibition destination, he said after chairing a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Tourism yesterday.

Incentives, he added, would also be given to those holding conventions and exhibitions, which had high impact on the country.

The committee, Najib said, also discussed ways to overcome existing problems in the Malaysia My Second Home programme since participants had voiced their unhappiness over the limitations they faced in employment and other areas, as well as investments and the bringing in of funds.

The cabinet committee also sought ways to improve the number of repeat tourists and discussed new products and destination as well as revitalising existing tourist interests.

Tour package development and promotions would also be encouraged.

Asked if the unrest in neighbouring countries could affect tourist arrivals to the country, Najib said it was a subjective matter as it could benefit Malaysia with tourists being diverted to this country.

It is understood that the target for tourist arrivals to the country next year has been reduced by two million to 20 million.

If projections are accurate, Malaysia could in fact expect a total negative growth of 25 per cent for the next three years, with estimated arrivals to drop to 16 million in 2011 from this year's 22 million tourists.

Najib said the declining figures were inevitable as the tourism industry could not be insulated from the impact of global adversities, including the current economic crisis.

He cited the 1996 to 1998 period, when the country recorded a total negative growth of 25 per cent, from 7.1 million to 5.5 million tourists, due to the then economic crisis as well as the haze and other negative publicity.

He said the government had outlined measures to sustain the momentum of the tourism sector, as otherwise even next year's target would have been reduced to 18 million tourists instead of the new 20 million mark.

Malaysia received 17.5 million tourists in 2006 and 20.97 million the following year.

Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said, who was at the meeting, meanwhile said that the 22 million tourist arrivals in the country this year would generate an estimated revenue of RM44 billion to the country.

Next year, the projected revenue from tourism is RM40 billion.

Last year, tourism, at 7.2 per cent, was the second largest contributor of foreign currency exchange after manufacturing.

Prior to the meeting, Najib launched the jingles and the ZOOM! Malaysia advertisement.

The ZOOM! Campaign was launched by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in May as one of the government's efforts in promoting domestic tourism as well as national integration.

The campaign is aimed at reducing the currency outflow caused by locals holidaying abroad.

 

Source: The News Straits Times Online



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