KL in most-visited cities list a sign of local tourism revival, groups say

KL is expected to draw 12.8 million visitors this year, a 4.5 per cent increase from 2016. — Reuters pic

PETALING JAYA, Dec 16 — Kuala Lumpur’s listing as the 10th most visited in the world reflects the encouraging rebound tourism in Malaysia is experiencing, said industry groups.

They urged the Tourism and Culture Ministry to take advantage of the achievement to build momentum in promoting Malaysia to the rest of the world.

Malaysia Inbound Tourism Association president Uzsidi Udanis said feedback from his members indicated that the resurgence was wider than just in the capital city alone.

“KL is the gateway into Malaysia, but we have good reports coming in from other entry points particularly from Johor and Melaka, with many China tourists landing in at Changi Airport in Singapore before making their way north.

“The indicators are strong and we urge the government not to let up on its efforts in continuing to promote the country abroad, as this was one of the main factors, KL was ranked so highly,” he said.

Uzsidi said tourism penetration into the country was so profound that once “secret tourist spots” such as Bagan Datoh in Perak and Pantai Redang in Sekinchan, Selangor were now well known.

He credited this to social media, saying visitors’ posts have helped to draw attention to these lesser known or unconventional destinations.

The MITA president said that since most arrivals were now from the Asean region, more effort was needed to improve connectivity to Europe and the US, saying this would prevent the local tourism sector from putting “all its eggs in one basket”.

He added that Malaysia’s increased prominence could only be exploited by making the country accessible especially via air travel.

“About three-quarters of arrivals are from the region with Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei and Thailand topping the list with easy accessibility being a key factor.

“But we must look further afield and target the long distance markets. For example starting next January there will be direct flights from Incheon, South Korea to Senai Airport in Johor,” he said adding that Philippines would fly US tourists into the country through Manila Airport.

Last month, Euromonitor International in its Top 100 City Destinations ranking 2017 listed KL as  tenth worldwide, while Johor Baru was 42nd and Penang, 63rd.

KL is expected to draw 12.8 million visitors this year, a 4.5 per cent increase from 2016.

Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents president Datuk Tan Kok Liang said the ranking was welcome news, but stressed that stakeholders must do more to promote Malaysia as a whole.

Tan said the country has immense tourism potential, and urged the relevant parties to do all they can to also draw attention to Malaysia’s many attractions.

“From east to west, the country has a variety of tourist [spots] that can satisfy even seasoned travellers and this is a golden opportunity for the government to capitalise on this good news,” he said.

Tan said the news was especially heartening after foreign arrivals eased in 2014 and 2015.

He credited increasing arrivals now to the development of niche tourism products and the ability to draw tourists for multiple visits. – themalaymailonline.com

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