Minister urges tourism industry players to do more

PETALING JAYA: Tourism industry players must maintain a rational and open attitude to working with the government to revive the industry, says Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing.

The Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister said tour guides, catering providers and other sectors must maintain a rational and open attitude through dialogues and brainstorming sessions to tackle the challenges, promote tourism and create new breakthroughs.

"The uneasiness and concerns among industry operators are understandable, but some have viewed the recovery of the local tourism industry with pessimism, especially on the issue of restrictions of direct flights," said Tiong in a statement Monday (May 1).

"I urge all to jointly discuss formulating more effective policies and measures to enhance Malaysia's tourism competitiveness through innovating marketing strategies, reducing costs and raising efficiency to attract travellers.

"Claims that there are more direct flights between China and both Singapore and Thailand compared to between China and Malaysia are less than accurate as AirAsia alone resumed direct flights to and from cities in China, while I have personally taken chartered flights from cities there recently."

Tiong said whether there have been direct flights or dialogues with several parties, the reality is many technical issues and considerations must be taken into account before all routes are opened to the public in due time.

Tourism businesses, he said, must not solely rely on the government's promotional efforts but through working together to find weaknesses in the sector including service quality, word-of-mouth and also turning around the delay in hiring tourism workers and the shortage.

"In previous dialogues, I had urged the tourism operators to report the problems to the ministry or me personally, but the feedback received so far has been limited," he said.

Regarding continuing visa-on-arrival for Chinese tourists, Tiong said the matter is currently being discussed and all efforts will be made to ensure it can be implemented as soon as possible as a key driver for tourism in Malaysia.

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