THE Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry is aiming to get more tourists from the eastern part of Russia and countries in Central Asia to visit Malaysia next year, its Deputy Minister Muhammad Bakhtiar Wan Chik said.
He said Russian tourists to Malaysia were registered at around 52,000 last year and the number is targetted to reach 100,000 by the end of next year.
“The number of tourist arrivals from Central Asian countries such as Uzbekistan and Kazahkstan has been encouraging and we want to tap the market more,” he told reporters here after officiating the Oceanman, an international open swimming competition.
Muhammad Bakhtiar said the Malaysian Tourism Promotion Board (Tourism Malaysia) has an office in Moscow and Seoul, which could be used as a base to carry out promotional efforts in Russia and Central Asia.
“We are also planning to collaborate with tourism authorities in Thailand and Indonesia, which have been enjoying a good flow of Russian tourists all these years and to bring these visitors to our country,” he added.
Meanwhile, Muhammad Bakhtiar said the plan by Qatar Airways to start a flight service to Langkawi in April next year willbe able to boost the number of tourists to the island.
He said his ministry wouldcontinue to encourage more international airlines to include Langkawi in their routes apart from facilitating the organisation of more international events to attract more tourists to the island.
“Local tourism players blame a lack of connectivity as among the reasons that hindered the effortsto bring more tourists here and we are working to address this and at the same time, Langkawi has the capability to organise international events which can pull more tourists to come in,” he said.
Muhammad Bakhtiar said the Oceanman would be among the annual international events here and this augured well with the ministry’s plan to boost tourists arrival to the island.
“We have 280 participants coming from 19 countries but we should not forget their family members, friends and supporters coming with them to visit Langkawi,” he said. — Bernama