KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia will invite 100 Chinese journalists here to see for themselves that the country is safe and welcomes them, said Datuk Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
The deputy Tourism Minister said the journalists would be free to visit various tourist destinations in the country and have access to the Immigration director and police if they wished.
“The journalists, from different parts of China, will be here in mid-December for a seven to 10 days’ familiarisation trip. Their visit will be sponsored by Tourism Malaysia.
“Our objective is to show them that Malaysia welcomes Chinese tourists and that this is a safe country,” he said.
Zahid will leave for China tonight as part of the delegation led by Home Minister Datuk Azmi Khalid to clear any misconception that Malaysia is profiling Chinese nationals, especially women, as being likely to indulge in vice.
Newspapers in China have been carrying negative stories about Malaysia, including the controversial ear-squat incident captured on video and allegations by four Chinese women of mistreatment while under police custody.
Last month, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi directed Azmi to go to China to tell the people there that Malaysia was not targeting Chinese nationals.
Zahid, who is making his second trip in two weeks, said the Malaysian delegation would meet Chinese journalists, travel writers, tour and travel operators and advertisers, among others.
He had just returned from China last Sunday after meeting China’s Minister of Tourism Shao Qi Wei, who is also the chairman of the Chinese National Tourism Administration (CNTA).
“On a government to government basis, our relations are fine. The minister said he accepted that the recent incident was an isolated case and not a government policy,” he added.
Zahid said Shao, as CNTA chairman, gave him the assurance that he would try to “get one million Chinese tourists to visit Malaysia next year.”
Last year, 570,000 Chinese tourists visited Malaysia. But this figure dropped by 49% to 270,000 this year (Jan to end of Sept) due to negative publicity.
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