Tuesday, 01 March 2011 16:09
[25/02/11] NEW DELHI (Bernama)-- Malaysia is gearing towards positioning itself as a pretty eco-tourism destination to woo more Indian visitors this year, as increasing Indian visitors are showing keen interest in nature-based activities.
In Delhi, Malaysian Deputy Tourism Minister Datuk Dr James Dawos Mamit told Bernama that at least 54 per cent Indians visiting Malaysia opted for rural-based tourism.
"More visitors from India like to indulge in country-side tourism or country-side sight seeing and involve in nature-based activities.
"We are developing a strategic plan to promote eco-tourism. Our strength is to relate nature to culture, when we do this, people get interested," said Mamit.
An estimated 690,000 Indians visited Malaysia last year, clocking a 17 per cent growth over 2009, and bullish tourism officials are trying to attain 720,000 visitors this year.
The influx of Indian tourists to Malaysia has put India as the second largest source market for the country outside Asean, after China, which sends close to a million tourists.
India, with its rising purchasing power, has been listed as one of the fastest growing outbound tourist markets in the world and the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) predicts India would record a whopping 50 million outbound tourists by 2020.
"India is a growing market and Indians enjoy high income now. They come to Malaysia for shopping, city and country-side sightseeing," said Mamit.
On the main challenges facing the Indian market, he said issues relating to visa was the common grouse voiced by industry players.
"Everyone has mainly raised the visa issue, transit visa and visa on arrival. We have to look into this and find a creative way to solve this," he added.
The Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board is actively organising a four-city sales mission, namely to Chennai, Hyderabad, Pune and Delhi.
Mamit, who is leading the mission, would also visit Dhaka in Bangladesh, after Delhi.
Over 40 leading tour operators and hoteliers from Malaysia are taking part in the sales mission to India and Bangladesh.
Last year, a total of 24.6 million international tourists landed on Malaysian shores, which contributed to a staggering RM56.5 billion in revenue for the government.
From P. Vijian
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