MIRI: The National Tourism Development Council has drawn up a three-prong strategy to cushion the countrys tourism industry from the impact of the US-Iraq war and the spread of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) disease worldwide.
Culture, Arts and Tourism Minister Datuk Paduka Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir said three vital strategies must be implemented - aggressive development of interstate domestic travel within Malaysia, enhancement of student-tourism nationwide and widening the scope of home-stay projects.
We in Malaysia are always hit by international crises which directly affect our tourism development.
Not so long ago, it was the haze crisis and later, the economic crisis. Now it is the war in Iraq and the spread of the SARS. It seems that we are being hit by problems from the West and from the East.
To contain the effects of these crisis on a long-term basis, we must tap the huge potential available inside the country. We have 23 million people. This is a huge tourism market that can still be developed further, he told a press conference after chairing the council meeting here.
Kadir said every state tourism board had been asked to come up with its own plans on how the three strategies can be implemented effectively.
He said domestic tourists were as important as foreign tourists because both types of travellers contributed financial return.
Last year, Malaysia recorded 13.3 million tourists plus 7.5 million entry for day-trip excursions. Some RM42bil was earned.
Taxes on individual tourists amounted to about RM6bil while service charges collection was between RM600 mil and RM1.2bil. These will be more if we can get more domestic-tourists and students to travel inside the country, he said.