Tourist arrivals from South Asia, Middle East surged in 2019

NEW DELHI: Malaysia saw a 45 per cent jump in tourists from Pakistan in the January-November period, last year.

More than 97,000 Pakistanis visited Malaysia in the first 11 months of 2019, according to Tourism Malaysia figures.

The increase, compared with the same period of 2018, was the sharpest from any country in South Asia – despite a shortage of direct flights, Deputy Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Muhammad Bakhtiar Wan Chik said.

Malaysia hopes to attract more MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) visitors and tourist families from Pakistan.

“(However), we need better air connectivity. But it’s a commercial decision for the airlines to make,” Muhammad Bakhtiar added.

Bangladeshi visitors between January and November grew to about 164,000, representing an increase of 18 per cent.

Indian tourist arrivals rose 25 per cent to 686,000 during the same period.

“We have to look at ways to capitalise on the growth trends in South Asian arrivals.

“We need to tap more tourists from Bangladesh and Pakistan.

India is our sixth biggest source of tourists and has become a mature market. Indian tourists now look beyond their traditional favourites of Kuala Lumpur and Genting,” Muhammad Bakhtiar said.

Malaysia’s target is to attract at least a million Indian tourists per year.

Saudi Arabia is Malaysia’s largest source of tourists in the West Asian region, with arrivals growing 11 per cent to 115,000 between January and November; while tourists from the United Arab Emirates increased 22 per cent to about 10,000.

Connectivity with the Arab region will further grow when Qatar Airways launches a service to Kota Kinabalu later this year.

“Summer is the peak holiday season for travellers from West Asia to come to Malaysia. But Arab tourists now increasingly see Malaysia as a year-round destination,” Muhammad Bakhtiar said.

Ninety per cent of Malaysia’s international tourists are from Asia, with the top sources being Singapore, Indonesia, China, Thailand and Brunei.

The Visit Malaysia 2020 campaign will see more promotion efforts in countries such as China, India, South Korea, Britain, Japan, France, Germany and Australia, the deputy minister said. – Bernama