Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said Tourism Malaysia worked in close collaboration with CNTA, which acts as a Ministry of Tourism in China, to draw more Chinese tourists.
He said Malaysia would not be able to achieve the target of bringing in three million tourists from China this year as it recorded only about 1.8 million Chinese tourist arrivals until Oct 31.
“The numbers fell off the target by 1.2 million. It’s impossible the achieve the target with two months left (in 2017),” he told Malaysian media here Tuesday.
Ahmad Zahid is here to deliver his keynote address at the 9th World Chinese Economic Summit (WCES), a major international event aimed at enhancing business relationships and networks between China and ASEAN.
Ahmad Zahid said the shortfall could be attributed to the scaling down of promotions due to reduced allocations.
Besides collaborating with CNTA, Malaysia will start promoting the Visit Malaysia Year 2020 starting next year where wooing Chinese tourists will also be on the cards.
To this end, Ahmad Zahid stressed the importance of air transport connectivity in terms of the frequency of scheduled, periodic or charter flights.
“We should focus on not only major cities but also second-tier cities which have less connectivity. I have discussed with several LCCs (low-cost carriers) so that we can exploit these destinations and gauge the number of potential Chinese tourists coming to Malaysia.
“(This is) because CNTA has promoted certain destinations (in Malaysia) to Chinese tourists. Perhaps CNTA can highlight new destinations that I had seen according to the areas of interest for Chinese tourists.
“They really like the rainforest and beaches. Of course, these elements are important for them to explore and I think the potential is huge. We must be steadfast and consistent in carrying out promotions,” he said.
Ahmad Zahid said with a population of 1.3 billion people, China has 60 million potential outbound tourists annually and the numbers is growing as their disposable income rises.
The Deputy Prime Minister expressed confidence that efforts to entice Chinese tourists to second-tier cities would bear fruit with the coordination between Tourism Malaysia and Malaysia’s Ministry of Tourism and Culture with CNTA.