Malaysian tourism welcomes return of old supremo


KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (eTN) – Tourism Malaysia has established an International Tourism Advisory Council (ITAC) that will oversee the “growth” markets of China, India and the Middle East markets to be headed by its former “supremo” Abdullah Junid.

Twice recalled from retirement to serve a “national service,” it will be the third time he has been asked to keep an eye on Malaysia’s tourism, which he served in various capacities from 1999 – 2006.

In an announcement, Malaysian Tourism Minister Azalina Othman Said said the highly-regarded personality, with his experience in the industry has been tasked to oversee Malaysia’s three largest markets in the next five years, effective June 10. “We are targeting 750,000 from China, 500,000 from India and 300,000 from the Middle East this year,” Said added.

In 2007, Malaysia recorded a total of 689,293 tourists from China, 422,452 from India and 245,203 from the Middle East. The three major markets altogether accounted for a total income of US$1.4 billion in the industry.

During its 2007 tourism promotion, Malaysia recorded a 57 percent jump of arrivals from China, spending an average of 6 room nights.

Up to May this year, Malaysia has already recorded an inflow of 418,327 tourist arrivals from China, including Hong Kong and Macau.

Wan Zawawi Mohamad, Tourism Malaysia international promotion director for North and East Asia, added at the recent Beijing International Tourism Expo, “Our diversity and natural attractions offer the Chinese an enriching experience.”

The recent addition of the US and Taiwan as “Approved Destinations” for mainland China travelers will pose a “stiffer competition” to Malaysia for the Chinese outbound tourism pie, Zawawi said. “Taiwan is nearer and they share a similar culture.”

Zawawi sees the Chinese free independent traveler (FIT) among the young to be attracted to Malaysia.

Mayflower Acme, an exhibitor at the Beijing Expo, is actively promoting its FIT packages, which attracted 6,000 Chinese tourists in 2007. “Mainland Chinese enjoy traveling in Malaysia because there is no language barrier, or food problems. However, they demand quality hotels, and flexibility in their itinerary, not cheap shopping.”

Tourism Malaysia is also devising attractive ‘innovative packages’ to increase foreign exchange earnings by increasing its tourism per capita expenditure from $732 in 2007 to $800 by 2010.

New strategies by Tourism Malaysia include promotion of its health and medical, education and eco-tourism market.

Among “future markets” it is looking at include offering a “luxury lifestyle” and home-stay experiences for the young FIT market. “Holidaying in Malaysia is fun.”

Its biggest income earner still remains the country’s attraction as a MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) destination, which in 2007 recorded an income of $2 billion from hosting 2.8 MICE participants.

In 2007, its Visit Malaysia Year 2007 promotion officially recorded 21 million tourists inflow, bringing in a revenue of $15 billion. Malaysia is aiming to achieve 24 million tourist arrivals by 2010, bringing in a revenue of $20 billion.