MALAYSIA is eyeing more visitors from South Asia for Visit Malaysia Year (VMY) 2014, with a series of road shows from March 10 to 20 to Sri Lanka and India to whip up enthusiasm and support.
The first leg kicked off in Colombo, where Tourism Malaysia’s deputy director general (Planning) Dato’ Azizan Noordin said the NTO hopes to increase the number of visitors from Sri Lanka this year to 70,000, from 64,051 in 2013.
The NTO also hopes to increase the number of flight frequencies to Malaysia. At present 31 flights operate to Malaysia from Colombo weekly.
Asked by the press about the increase in visa fee to Malaysia for Sri Lankans this year to Rs5,000 (US$38.30) from Rs500, due to the introduction of an outsourced visa-handling agent, Noordin said the NTO will consider a reduction in the visa fee.
The second leg of VMY 2014 started yesterday, with the sales mission team moving on to India’s Kochi, Bengaluru, Mumbai and New Delhi.
Malaysia is targeting 780,000 Indian arrivals in 2014 compared to 700,000 in 2013.
The delegation led by Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz, minister of Tourism and Culture, Malaysia will introduce initiatives to promote new destinations like Johor, Penang and Borneo in the growing Indian market.
Asked if Malaysia Airlines’(MAS) case of the missing MH370 flight had any impact on the sales mission, Tourism Malaysia’s Mumbai office said there is no change in roadshow plans.
Seema Ahmed, general manager, Kolkata-based Gainwell Travel & Lesiure, said: "The case is still under investigation and I do not want to speculate. Our clients’ opinion is if it was a terrorist act then KUL airport security comes under a cloud. However, we have not seen any great negative impact on travel to Malaysia."
Sandhya Kartha, director, Mumbai-based Redchilli Holidays, said: " Flight safety is a concern especially since Malaysian carriers will necessarily have to be used for destinations beyond Kuala Lumpur to Borneo or Penang."
Meanwhile, he added new destinations need to be introduced to Indian travellers as clients are always looking for fresh ideas for vacations.
However, P P Khanna, director, New Delhi-based Diplomatic Travel Point, highlighted: “New destinations in Malaysia will take time to be assimilated by the Indian travellers.
“Flight prices must be kept low for Kota Kinabalu and Kuching. Penang is already a known destination, but numbers are likely to increase with special promotions by Malaysian tourism stakeholders.”
Zulkifly Mohammad Said, director general, Islamic Tourism Centre, Malaysia, which was one of 12 exhibitors at SATTE in New Delhi earlier this year, revealed: “Tourism Malaysia will also focus on promoting golf and sport tourism in the Indian market.”