KUALA LUMPUR:Tourist arrivals to Malaysia last year was estimated at 13.1 million and this figure is expected to grow as the world flocks to the country to witness first-hand its diverse culture and arts.
While most have attributed the astounding figure to the promotion by the Culture, Arts and Tourism Ministry, its Minister, Datuk Paduka Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir said the arrivals have been boosted by Malaysia's rich culture and arts.
“For so long, people say our tourism industry is based on our promotions abroad. Actually, it is our multi-ethnic culture and arts that draw people to our shores,” he said at a dinner for the ministry's outgoing secretary-general Datuk Tengku Alaudin Tengku Abdul Majid at the Palace of the Golden Horses Hotel here last night.
Kadir said this was evident with the recording of last year's Citrawarna procession, an event like the Pasadena Rose Bowl in the United States, which was broadcast by 77 television stations worldwide.
He said the ministry was lobbying for a tourism development fund from the Government to give soft loans to tourism industry players to build more tourist attractions.
“We have identified our strength in the industry and we must now assist the private sector to lay the industry's infrastructure to ensure tourism arrivals continue to grow from the current 13 million to 15 million and then 20 million in the years ahead,” he said.
He added it was found that tourism development by the private sector was more successful than by the Government due to their prudent management, aggressive marketing and efficient completion of a project within a short time frame.
“The private sector has so far been very successful in completing projects faster than expected and promoting their projects even better than the Government. In fact, a particular project may even be cheaper if the private sector managed it instead of a government agency, not to mention their very efficient maintenance of such attractions,” he added.
Kadir said he would be meeting Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad tomorrow to present his ministry’s plans and pursue the setting up of such a fund “to ensure our country remains a favoured tourist destination globally.”
Good attractions and continued excellence in airline service by Malaysia Airlines, he said, would be strong grounds for the tourism industry to prosper further.