KUALA LUMPUR: Despite the political turmoil in the Middle Eastern region, the Tourism and Culture Ministry is confident of wooing visitors from there to meet its 28 million target next year.
Its director-general Datuk Mirza Mohammad Taiyab said that based on the overall growth and current trend, particularly with easier flight accessibility, the target was achievable, especially to mark the Visit Malaysia Year 2014.
“I believe that our target is achievable since we already have about 26.7 million visitors this year, including from the Middle Eastern countries.
“We just need an additional 10% to meet our target,” he told reporters after launching the World Islamic Tourism Mart (WITM) International Conference on Muslim Tourism, Haj and Umrah at Putra World Trade Centre yesterday.
The WITM-MATTA Fair 2013, which will be held from tomorrow until Sunday at PWTC, is expected to be MATTA’s biggest fair yet.
Mirza said political uncertainties in the Middle Eastern region could affect the tourism industry in other countries but the Government was studying ways to attract them to come to Malaysia.
“For instance, Egypt is a big tourism hub and it is up to us to find ways to redirect the tourists to come to our country instead,” he said.
Since visitors coming from the Middle Eastern countries were the biggest spender per capita compared with other countries, he said Malaysia had categorised them as top priority travellers.
“However, their numbers are still small compared to the total figures travelling outbound from the region.
“In terms of volume, we will still look at the Asean market, while for long-haul travellers, the Middle Eastern tourists will become our main focus,” he said.
The Tourism and Culture Ministry, he said, had also identified new emerging markets for travellers coming from the Middle Eastern and Asean segment including Johor Baru, Penang and Langkawi.
“We are positioning ourselves as a family-oriented tourist destination.”
He also said that the new theme parks in the Johor region had shown positive response from the market.
“Airline companies have direct flights from secondary cities in Indonesia to Johor Baru,” he said.
Among the new notable theme parks in Johor are the Puteri Harbour Family Theme Park and Legoland Malaysia.
WITM, which focuses on Islamic tourism, was first organised by MATTA last year.