Malaysia has labelled 2007 the Visit Malaysia year and set upon its largest ever tourist promotion operation. The Southeast Asian country hopes to welcome 20 million foreign tourists this year and bring in around 13 billion US dollars. Indeed, the Prime Minister Badawi recently opened his arms at a recent speech, symbolising his eagerness to attract people from abroad. The country has set a target of 24,6 million foreign arrivals by 2010.
The Malaysian government and Malaysian tourist boards joined forces to advertise their country to the outside world. Firstly, it was agreed that visa applications should be simplified for potential visitors. The infrastructure of Malaysia’s scenic spots was improved, as were communication services and traffic services. For example, there is a coach company that offers tours with commentary available in 8 different languages.
Perhaps most notably, a great stress was placed on the ‘Malaysia truly Asia’ campaign, which originated in 1999. To enhance this image of rich cultural and natural heritage of the country, employees in the tourism industry were especially trained. 50 major events were planned in Malaysia to attract foreigners, including the dragon boat racing in Penang and rainforest music festival in Sarawaki. Let’s not forget the 60m ferris wheel, reminiscent of the London eye, providing a bird eye view of the capital Kuala Lumpur.
The tourism campaign has been proven successful so far this year as Malaysia has been welcoming around 60,000 tourists daily, mostly from China, Russia and Japan. China has been singled out as the most important market. Ferries have been arriving from Moscow, direct to Kota Kinabalu, and flocks of foreigners have been visiting the famous island of Langkawi.