NEW YORK: After 23 years in the Big Apple, the curtain has finally come down on the New York office of Tourism Malaysia as it will close its doors on June 30.
It was set up to promote Malaysia as a tourist destination for Americans, especially those living in the east coast states.
In an interview with Bernama at his office, Ahmad Johanif Mohd Ali, who will be the last vice-president of the New York office and whose term is also ending with its closure, explained that the office was being closed as a cost-saving measure.
"The closure has, unfortunately, become inevitable. We appreciate the loyalty and dedication of our local staff, and thank them for their services," Johanif said.
Johanif will return soon to the headquarters in Kuala Lumpur.
However, his deputy Ednie Rahma Ab Rahim is being transferred to the Los Angeles office.
Tourism promotion on the east coast will continue under the stewardship of Tourism Malaysia's Los Angeles office, which had been looking after the west coast, but will now be responsible for the entire United States and other countries in the region.
Johanif said the Malaysian consulate-general in New York and the Embassy in Washington DC would also help in promoting Malaysia through their cultural activities as well as other activities highlighting the country as an attractive destination.
Tourism Malaysia's New York office will use its Facebook account to communicate with its contacts as its phone connections will be cut effective Sunday.
This follows a marathon exercise informing its large base of followers and ''Friends of Malaysia'' about the impending closure.
Some 500 travel agents and tour operators were notified about the decision.
However, the New York Times Travel Show, which takes place in January at the Convention and Exhibition Centre, will continue to see Malaysia's participation in the future.
Tourism Malaysia in Los Angeles will be participating in the event.
"This is the nation's most important travel and tourism show. Tourism Malaysia will continue to showcase the attractive features of Malaysia at this event which attracts tour operators, travel agents and others associated with the travel industry," Johanif said.
According to data received from Tourism Malaysia's headquarters in Kuala Lumpur, arrivals from the US in the first quarter of 2017 fell by 12.9% to 52,237.
The US ranked 14th among the top 15 nationalities visiting Malaysia in the first quarter of 2017.
The top 10 nations accounting for tourist arrivals in Malaysia were Singapore, Indonesia, China, Thailand, Brunei, South Korea, India, Japan, the United Kingdom and Australia.
Meanwhile, some tour operators told Bernama that they would like to see Malaysia re-open the New York office in the future.
"It's going to be difficult to come back and start all over again. A continued presence is essential to sustain the tourism momentum," said David Eisenberg, a New York-based travel and tourism consultant. - Bernama