BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – In a bid to draw more tourists from Japan, Malaysia will turn its attention to a different market – the secondary cities of Japan.
Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said this during her courtesy call on Asean-Japan Centre secretary-general Yashikuni Ohnishi, adding that this was to shift from the focus on the usual big cities such as Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto.
“We missed a lot (in promotion)…to second-line cities and associations for professionals like doctors or medical practitioners.
“These are the new areas for tourism promotion in Japan we are looking at,” she said during the courtesy call after the 13th Asean Tourism Ministers meeting, here, Sunday.
She said the population in the secondary cities might not be aware of the affordability to travel to Malaysia due to the lack of promotional and marketing initiatives there.
“We want to attract not the high-end Japanese market only, as in these cities there may be those who like to travel but they don’t think they can (afford it),” she added.
Earlier, Dr Ng said although tourist arrivals in Malaysia last year increased 7.2 per cent to 23.64 million compared to 2008, the number from Japan had dropped 8.7 per cent, probably due to the global economic slowdown.
She said in light of this, the ministry would continue to aggressively promote activities to encourage Japanese retirees to participate in the Malaysia My Second Home programme.
Ohnishi said most of Japan’s retirees looked at Asean countries as their second home, and were most likely to choose Singapore or Malaysia.
During the courtesy call, Dr Ng also extended an invitation to Japan to participate in the Floral Parade in Putrajaya in June or July.
She also promoted the homestay programme and suggested twinning programmes between specific districts of both countries, so that more Japanese tourists would visit Malaysia to experience the local culture.
She also highlighted the same programme during her courtesy call earlier on Asean-Korea Centre secretary-general Young Jai Cho.
The minister also paid courtesy calls on Singapore’s Trade and Industry Senior Minister S. Iswaran and Brunei’s Industry and Primary Resources Minister Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Utama Datuk Seri Awang Yahya Begawan, where she also invited the two countries to join the Floral Parade.