State govt expands marketing strategy to draw overseas visitors

Onn Hafiz says before the pandemic, the islands in Mersing and Desaru were among the top draws for travellers.

THE Johor government is planning to draw international tourists to the state this year.

“Last year, our main focus was domestic travel, but this year, with the ongoing vaccinations, we are expanding our marketing strategy to Singapore, Indonesia, China, South Korea and the Middle East, ” said Johor tourism, youth and sports committee chairman Datuk Onn Hafiz Ghazi.

He hoped the ongoing vaccination programme would be the impetus for the revival of the tourism industry this year.

“Helping the tourism industry survive the Covid-19 pandemic was very challenging.

“Hopefully, with the vaccination programme, the interstate travel ban will be lifted soon so we can welcome visitors from other states to Johor, ” he said in an interview with StarMetro.

He added that before the pandemic, Mersing islands such as Batu Batu, Pulau Tengah and Pulau Rawa were like a second home to tourists from Singapore, France, United Kingdom and Australia.

“Desaru was also one of the top destinations where in December 2019, hotels like One&Only Desaru Coast, Anantara Desaru Coast, Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast and The Westin Desaru Coast were fully booked, “ said Onn Hafiz.

He said the state government was planning to roll out five incentives for tourism industry players next month.

The first comprises one-off financial assistance worth RM1,000 to a thousand tour guides in the state, followed by business licence fee exemption for tourism companies besides entertainment tax exemption.

“We will also be giving incentives worth RM20,000 to 16 tourism associations and RM2,000 to tour companies in Johor, ” said Onn Hafiz.

He said the incentives would be paired with an upskilling programme to be conducted by Tourism Johor and the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry.

“The state government has also allocated RM1.5mil in tourism vouchers to help local theme parks, hotels and homestays, ” he added.

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