JOHOR BARU: Malaysians should shed the perception that they are only on holiday when travelling overseas as domestic travel can also bring about similar pleasure and excitement, state Tourism Committee chairman Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said.
Our own people seem to have the perception that they are on vacation only when they are off the shores of Malaysia, he said.
Dr Chua said that if each citizen were to take a holiday locally once in a year, there would be 24 million local tourists.
He said this would mean there would be 11million more travellers. There were 13 million foreign tourist arrivals to Malaysia last year.
When we promote Malaysia overseas, the foreigners are able to see the beauty of the country, especially with the tagline 'Malaysia Truly Asia.
They can see the abundance of nature in our tropical climate and the pristine islands surrounding our country, he said when hosting a group of journalists and travel writers at a Cuti-Cuti Malaysia familiarisation tour of the Mersing islands.
Dr Chua said there were more than 13 beautiful islands off Mersing which had been visited by many foreign tourists but most of the locals, even those residing in Mersing, had not visited them.
He said Malaysians should see the beauty of their own country and opt for local holidays, especially since the tourism department and private agencies had come up with many interesting and value-for-money holiday packages.
Sixty per cent of foreign tourists visiting Malaysia enter via Johor and its proximity to Singapore is an advantage.
Although we are able to tap the Singapore market, we should not assume there would be a continuous flow of tourists.
The drop in the number of visitors due to SARS is an example. It is time for locals to do their part to help the tourism industry and start planning their holidays within Malaysia, he said.
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