JOHOR BARU: Johor has stepped up its promotion to woo domestic tourists after the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak resulted in fewer visitors crossing over from Singapore.
State Tourism and Environment committee chairman Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said Johor used to contribute about 60% of tourist arrivals into the country. This was about 19 million people coming via 12 entry points in the state.
However, he said, between April and July this year, tourist arrivals – mainly from Singapore – dropped by almost 90% because of the SARS fear.
“This severely affected local businesses, mainly hotels, restaurants, hypermarkets, tour agencies and shopping complexes.
“Only after SARS did we realise that we cannot solely depend on foreign tourism,” he told reporters after launching the 5th Matta International Travel Fair at the Johor Baru Indoor Stadium here yesterday.
Chua added that since then much effort had been put into tapping domestic tourism.
He said despite the recent SARS scare, the state government was committed to make Visit Johor Year 2003 a success.
“We will continue to promote the state actively through several international events,” he said, adding that the state government would also take part in travel fairs overseas.
Among the events are the Desaru International Triathlon, the Pasir Gudang International Kite festival, the Johor International Orchid Show, the FIM Asia Motocross Championship and the International Rainforest Challenge.
“We plan to bring in more travel agents and journalists from overseas to see and feel for themselves the services and facilities offered by the state,” he said, adding that Johor was also working with Tourism Malaysia and Malaysia Airlines on this.
Dr Chua said AirAsia airlines' expansion of its services to the state, would help boost tourist arrivals as the airline had projected an annual arrival of about 500,000 people.
Did you find this article insightful?