PUTRAJAYA (Bernama): Tourist arrivals from Arab countries increased sharply last year after Pakatan Harapan took over the country's administration, says Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Mohamaddin Ketapi (pic).
He said the increase was partly due to Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's leadership as the Arabs held him in high regard.
In 2017, about 27,000 Arabs visited the country but the number surged to 33,000 in 2018, with total spending hitting RM3.8bil, he told Bernama after receiving a courtesy call from an Asean Chamber of Commerce delegation at his office here Friday (May 3).
He said the biggest spenders in Malaysia were tourists from Saudi Arabia followed by the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Iran and Kuwait, and then only followed by those from Sweden and the United Kingdom.
Mohamaddin said the Arab media were actively promoting Malaysia as a tourist destination, and a radio station in Dubai was even airing a tourism package on Malaysia no fewer than 20 times daily.
Mohamaddin expect tourist arrivals from Arab countries to increase to 35,000 this year.
Meanwhile, Asean Chamber of Commerce president Datuk Moehamad Izat Emir said the chamber was committed to working with the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry to promote Malaysian products such as the songket and silk from Kelantan and Terengganu to the Asean market.
He said that during the courtesy call on Mohamaddin, the Asean Chamber of Commerce had proposed to hold seven tourism programmes, including Asean Silk Carnival and Asean Songket Carnival, to help Malaysian silk and songket manufacturers.
"I also suggested for Malaysian songket and silk to be promoted in selected hotels in Asean countries," he told Bernama when met after the meeting. - Bernama