S. Anil Radhakrishnan

Malaysian Tourism Promotion Board expects 2.8 lakh Indian tourists this year

Thiruvananthapuram: The Malaysian Tourism Promotion Board (MTPB) will soon come out with specific packages to attract tourists during the `Visit Malaysia Year 2007 Campaign' being organised in connection with the golden jubilee of the southeast Asian nation attaining independence.

The MTPB (Ministry of Tourism) has organised road shows in eight Indian cities.

"The fact that the global launch of the campaign was done in India shows the importance attached to the country," Joseph K. Jose, Marketing Manager, MTPB,told The Hindu recently.

The campaign aims at aggressively developing and marketing Malaysia as a major international tourist destination, raising further foreign tourist arrivals, encouraging visitors to extend stay and perk up spending while holidaying, popularising and promoting tourism-related activities, programmes and events, and showcasing the uniqueness of Malaysia as a tourist destination.

Mr. Jose, who held discussions with various travel agents in the capital on Friday, said he would be soon meeting the travel agents of Kochi as well.

`Malaysia Welcomes the World,' an initiative of the Ministry of Tourism, has been launched to prepare the country ahead of the campaign.

The initiative has been conceived to make Malaysia a more tourist-friendly country and upgrade its hospitality skills, he said.

Tourist arrivals

Global tourist arrivals to Malaysia during January-March this year was put at 4.38 million and the increase in arrivals was 5.3 per cent compared to the same period last year. Malaysia is targeting 20.1 million tourist arrivals during 2007.

Tourist arrivals from India during January and February this year were 35,754, having registered a growth of 20.5 per cent, according to the official. Going by the current figures of tourist arrivals, India is the ninth largest market for Malaysia now.

The Malaysian Tourism Promotion Board is targeting to receive 2.8 lakh Indian tourists during this year and 3.5 lakhs in 2007.

"The arrivals are mainly from Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Chennai.

But with SriLankan Airlines and Silk Air operating flights to Malaysia, arrivals from Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram are catching up," he said.

The MTPB official said August 2007 would see a myriad of parades, cultural performances, street shows and carnivals being rolled out to commemorate the country's Independence (or Merdeka) Day, which falls on August 31.

Silk Air, the regional wing of Singapore Airlines, has decided to come out with packages for tourists visiting Malaysia during the campaign.

Discount in fares

According to Silk Air General Manager (Kerala) Saramma Jacob, the airline would offer 50 per cent discount in fares to all destinations in Malaysia that the airline is operating. The MTPB official said Malaysia was slowly emerging as a favourite "destination for Indian weddings".

In 2004, a wedding from Jalagon was held in Malaysia and over 300 persons from India had flown down to attend it.

In 2005, two Gujarati weddings were performed in Malaysia and already another is scheduled for this year.