KUALA LUMPUR: Arab countries will be the best market to bank on for the country's tourism receipts during these difficult times, said Culture, Arts and Tourism Minister Datuk Paduka Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir.
He said their hot season would begin soon in May, and his ministry would seize the opportunity to lure them to Malaysia.
Abdul Kadir said the climate, cuisine and environment in Malaysia would appeal to them.
The only factor the promotion campaign needed to emphasise was that the country was not severely affected by the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak, he said.
“We will go there and tell them that Malaysia is a safe destination and that the Government has adopted stringent measures to curb the spread of this outbreak'' said Abdul Kadir during the grand opening of Albustan Restaurant and The Terrrace Cafe here which was attended by several Middle East ambassadors.
The minister said he would not discount the fact that the Arabs would have reservations coming to this region.
“The fear factor will be there but we will do our best to convince them,'' he said.
The ministry will be sending a promotion team on May 15 to the Arab countries while print and television campaigns will be running simultaneously.
It was reported that Arab tourist arrivals stood at 125,000 last year but Abdul Kadir said he would not be able to project the numbers this time.
He said that from February onwards, tourism has been badly hit, dipping 40%, but was optimistic the situation would recover by the end of May.