NEW DELHI: Air links between Malaysia and India need to grow to revive tourism to pre-pandemic levels, says Deputy Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Khairul Firdaus Akbar Khan.
He said that presently, Malaysia Airlines, Batik Air, AirAsia and IndiGo operate 170 weekly flights, offering 29,000 seats from India to Malaysia.
"The connectivity between Malaysia and India is below par," Khairul told Bernama in an interview in New Delhi on Wednesday (Feb 8) evening.
With tourist numbers growing, airlines should consider adding capacity on the route, he said.
Tourism Malaysia is making a strong push this year to boost arrivals from India, a key market, with promotional activities in major cities.
The Malaysian travel industry is strongly represented at the three-day SATTE (South Asia Travel and Tourism Exchange) tourism fair, which began in Greater Noida near New Delhi on Thursday.
The Malaysian pavilion at SATTE includes 25 tour agents, 14 hotel operators, three airlines, four state tourism boards, and a number of other tourism companies.
Khairul said the relationship with India was forged over many years and Malaysian tourism players are eager to develop it further in the post-pandemic tourism revival campaign.
"Indian tourists are familiar with Malaysia and it is important for us to get more of them to explore Malaysia," the Deputy Tourism Minister said.
"We think two segments are very important in the Indian market. These are MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) and wedding tourism," he added.
Tourism Malaysia together with the Malaysia Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) organised roadshows in five key Indian cities -- Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Ahmedabad -- between Jan 30 and Feb 7, to reinforce the message that Malaysia's tourism sector growth is picking up.
Before the Covid-19 outbreak, Malaysia recorded 735,309 Indian tourist arrivals in 2019.
It received 187,037 Indian tourists between January and September 2022, according to a Tourism Malaysia press release.
Malaysia hopes to attract 15.6 million international tourist arrivals, including 400,000 from India, in 2023. - Bernama