‘More direct flights to China will help 3.5 million target’

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia is hoping to have more direct and chartered flights from China via strategic collaborations with airlines to achieve its target of 3.5 million Chinese tourist arrivals this year, says Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing.

The Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister said as of now, there are 175 weekly flights from China to Malaysia.

He was met by reporters at the launch of Xiamen Airlines’ inaugural flight from Chongqing to Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

Tiong said the flight marked an important milestone in boosting tourist traffic between the two destinations.

“We are thrilled with the launch of this new route by Xiamen Airlines to accommodate the increased travel demand and enhance connectivity from China to Malaysia,” he said.

The maiden flight touched down at Terminal 1 of Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA), where the passengers were welcomed by Tourism Malaysia and Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB) management teams.

The new direct flight will fly four times a week on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, bringing more convenience to the people of both countries in bridging economic ties, cultural exchanges and investments.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s visit to China in March, which coincided with the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership between the two countries, has only deepened the Malaysia-China relationship.

With the launch of the non-stop flight to Chongqing, Xiamen Airlines now operates 25 flights to China every week, including Kuala Lumpur to Xiamen (two daily flights) and Kuala Lumpur to Fuzhou (one daily flight).

On Monday, Anwar said the government was prepared to issue immediate approval for chartered flights into the country as a means to attract and encourage tourist arrivals.

For the first quarter of the year, 4.38 million foreign tourists had entered the country, with 178,150 of the total comprising tourists from China.

Local tour agencies had expressed their frustration that Malaysia missed out on thousands of tourists from China during the Golden Week holidays early this month, blaming it on the lack of direct flights between the two countries. — Bernama

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