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The Time is NOW! The Place is Malaysia!.

• Malaysia Tourism Minister Datuk Tengku Adnan at the Asean Tourism Forum at the Impact Arena in Bangkok in late January 2008.
A friendly minister, a breath-taking presentation and gala dinner … which is what makes for an unforgettable experience of hospitality - from Malaysia.
Beautiful models strutting the catwalk, donning exquisite Malaysian fashions, performers from different regions of Malaysia putting on a dazzling show and display of ethnic costumes and music … Everything about the presentation of Malaysian Tourism was flawlessly executed at the Gala Dinner and show at the Asean Tourism Forum held in Bangkok on 24th January 2008.

The friendly and articulate Datuk Seri Adnan Tengku Mansor, Minister of Tourism Malaysia took time off on the eve of the function to speak to ASEANAFFAIRS.
After a successful 2007 campaign for Tourism Malaysia, what can we expect in 2008, I began by asking the Minister?

“2007 was a very successful year. We exceeded our targets, from 44.5 billion to 46.7 billion ringitt. We have decided to extend our ‘Visit Malaysia’ campaign to Aug 31st of 2008. We are repositioning Lankawi. We will be advertising more on terrestrial and electronic and cable television networks. ‘Heart of South East Asia’ will be the emphasis of our campaigns. All campaigns will be focusing on destination based tourism marketing. Those destinations include Kota Bahru, Cameron highlands, Genting highlands, Sungai Melaka, Penang, etc.

Many people don’t realise that Kuala Lumpur has many things to offer other than just the twin towers. KL has the best zoo in South East Asia, excellent shopping malls, gourmet delights. It’s a fun and exciting city and it has a very cosmopolitan environment.”

Turning to the important markets that Malaysia tourism is focusing its efforts on, he said, “Singapore contributes 10 million visits to Malaysia, almost 2.5 times their population. Brunei three times their population.” Regarding Thailand, the minister said he would like to see more tourists coming to Malaysia from the Kingdom. In 2007, against a target of two million visits from Thailand the arrivals were recorded at 1.3 million only. To improve the situation, more connectivity was required between Malaysia and Thailand.

In this regard the Minister had discussions with Thai budget airline NOK Air to connect secondary cities such as Phuket and Langkawi and Hadyai and Langkawi. Further more the help of media was needed to popularise Malaysia as an attractive tourist destination to Thais, he noted. Familiarisation trips through out the year would be organised for the media to highlight Malaysia as an all year tourist destination, he added.

Tourism is a very important industry for Malaysia. Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi warmly invites the world to visit Malaysia in TV commercials. And Datuk Adnan Tengku is ably steering the ministry towards achieving outstanding tourism receipts and getting record number of visitors to Malaysia. In fact the ministry functions very much on the lines of private corporations.

At the beginning of the year all country officers attend a meeting with the minister where budgets and targets are set and then monitored through out the year. In 2007, there were only 7 countries whose arrivals did not meet the targets set. All the officers in charge of these countries (Russia, Japan, Australia, UK, etc) had to explain in details why they failed to achieve their targets.

“We have to be competitive in this era of ever increasing competition from countries such as Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam who are aggressively marketing their tourist destinations, and we have to perform and deliver in tune with the times.” the minister said.

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