LONDON: Malaysian tourism, still recovering from the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak, got a shot in the arm on Sunday when some 50,000 people flocked to Trafalgar Square to sample the delights the country can offer to holidaymakers.
Murtabak was completely sold out while satay and char koay teow were popular with the visitors, who quenched their thirst in the day's mini-heat wave with a range of tropical drinks that included coconut and mango.
Many were still queuing up for the food past closing time at 6.30pm at the Truly Asia Day, which had performances by a lion dance troupe, bhangra group and gamelan bands.
The event was part of a summer festival organised by the Greater Authority of London to commemorate the new look of Trafalgar Square, which is now a more pedestrian-friendly place.
The body's invitation to Tourism Malaysia to take part in its Summer in the Square programme could not have come at a better time.
With British visitor numbers down by half from its peak of about 263,000 in 2001, the exotic sights, sounds and smells of Malaysia in fine, hot weather should put Malaysia back on the tourist map, according to Tourism Malaysia.
The timing was appropriate, Tourism Malaysias UK and Ireland director Yazid Mohamed told The Star, adding that the event fitted in nicely with its recovery plan to woo more tourists put off by the war on Iraq and the SARS outbreak.
Weve just completed phase one of our advertising campaign to coincide with the summer holidays, and well start again in mid-September for those wanting to escape the winter.
However, Yazid said the response to the promotions in co-operation with Malaysia Airlines and a local tour operator as well as with Asean countries was too early to gauge.