PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia – The Tourism Ministry is expecting a decrease in international arrivals this year due to floods, natural disasters and other economic factors.
Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said it might not hit its target of 25 million foreign tourists this year because the industry had been affected by various factors.
Speaking to reporters after delivering her year-end message to ministry officials and staff yesterday, Dr Ng said these factors included the floods in Thailand, development of other tourist attractions in the region and economic slowdown in some developed countries.
“Some tourists prefer package tours to visit Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand. However, there are some tourists who stay longer in Malaysia due to the floods in Thailand,” she said.
Dr Ng said the ministry did not foresee these changes when its original target was set.
“I hope we can still reach the mark of 24 million this year,” she said, adding that the ministry was in the midst of compiling statistics for international arrivals this year. Last year, some 24.6 million foreign tourists visited Malaysia.
Dr Ng said that the trend of domestic travel was not affected, adding that it was common for local tourists to travel less during the flood season.
She said the ministry was also working with other airlines to increase Malaysia’s accessibility via air travel.
“The ministry is discussing with certain Russian agencies on the possibility of chartered flights between Russia and Malaysia for tourists,” Dr Ng said.
At another function later, Dr Ng said Malaysian artists should use their talent to help promote the country to the world through their work.
“We have supplied the platform for them through the annual three-month art festival.
“It is up to the towns to come forward and showcase their work,” she said when launching an exhibition by Malaysian artist Ali “Mabuha” Rahamad at the National Visual Arts Gallery here.