PUTRAJAYA: 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.
He said the increase was partly due to Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s leadership as 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 said after receiving a courtesy call from an Asean Chamber of Commerce delegation here on Friday.
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 expects tourist arrivals from Arab countries to increase to 35,000 this year.
Meanwhile, Tourism Malaysia has announced a joint promotional campaign with Air Arabia, the Middle East and North Africa’s first and largest low-cost carrier, with the introduction of direct daily flights from Sharjah to Kuala Lumpur. The campaign will run across the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, Iraq and Egypt markets.
The signing ceremony by Tourism Malaysia director general Datuk Musa Yusof and Air Arabia chief executive Adel Al Ali took place in Dubai during the Arabian Travel Market 2019.
Air Arabia’s direct flights between Sharjah and Kuala Lumpur will start from July 1. — Bernama