Tourism M’sia targets more international flights coming in

The Crystal Mosque in Kuala Terengganu, opened to the public in 2008, is one of the most photographed landmarks in Malaysia. — Tourism Malaysia

LANGKAWI: Tourism Malaysia is hopeful that Routes Asia 2024 will be the catalyst for the increased number of international flights coming into Malaysia to pre-pandemic levels or more, says its senior director for international promotion (Asean) Mohd Shahrir Mohd Ali.

According to Mohd Shahrir, accessibility to Malaysia has not been the same since Covid-19 hit back in 2020.

“Arrivals last year were recorded at 20.1 million arrivals, this year our target is 27.3 million. Gearing up towards Visit Malaysia 2026, we hope that the various events being held this year will draw more tourists,” he said at a briefing at Routes Asia 2024.

He added that the ministry will be targeting more Chinese tourists this year, between three and five million, as the number of chartered flights from there have seen a steady rise lately.

Mohd Shahrir said the introduction of the Charter Flight Matching Grant incentive would continue boosting the industry, with three categories as its focus.

“One is increasing the existing flights, the second is looking at new airlines for more routes and the last is chartered flights. We’ve continued to see interest from China and India as well,” he said.

Additionally, he said there were possibilities that the Chinese tourists would visit Sabah as there are many connections at the moment in which the ministry will continue looking at.

While he said there was no specific target group of tourists, business travellers tended to spend more than those who come for leisure.

Meanwhile, Mohd Shahrir said the Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand Growth Triangle (IMT-GT) will continue playing an important role within the tourism and aviation industries.

“From 2023 until 2025, it is Visit IMT-GT Year. This is an opportunity for the whole state of Peninsular Malaysia as well as Langkawi to be promoted in Thailand and Indonesia,” he said.

He expects medical tourism to be a pull for Indonesians alongside the offering of education, whereby he hopes to draw students wanting to learn English.

“Another important factor is to make Malaysia an umrah hub, leveraging on the amount of movement of umrah movement from Indonesia.

“So they can use Malaysia as a hub where they stop over for a couple of nights first,” he said.

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