KUCHING: Tourism Malaysia hopes local players will focus on developing quality tourism products as customers have become increasingly sophisticated and demanding.
Its state director Salahuddin Mohd Ariffin said intense competition and abundant choices meant tourism players needed to offer more creative and innovative tour packages.
“Customers now want quality and tailor-made packages. Hence, luxury tour programmes are something worth looking into for better returns on investment.
“This is because the strengthening of the US dollar against many currencies, including the Ringgit, has increased the purchasing power of international travellers to Malaysia,” he said at `Kelantan Delight Sales Mission to Sarawak’ held at Pullman Hotel here yesterday.
The inaugural mission was organised by Tourism Malaysia Kelantan in collaboration with AirAsia Berhad and Tourism Malaysia Sarawak.
Twenty-two participants, comprising government agencies, five travel agencies, and 12 hotels from Kota Bharu, participated.
Over 60 industry players from Sarawak, including seven government agencies, 19 travel agencies, nine hotels, and two homestay operators, attended gathering, which was meant for industry players from both states to sell tour packages and accommodation.
Citing the Travel Market Report, Salahuddin said luxury vacations on the rise were those related to honeymoons, weddings, romantic getaways and family leisure.
“I believe this year will be a good one for Sarawak’s tourism, following positive performances last year, which recorded 4.86 million tourist arrivals – an increase of 11.2 per cent as compared to the 2013 figure.
“About three million of these arrivals were foreigners.”
On the Year of Festival (MyFest 2015), that has already been launched, Salahuddin advised tourism players in Sarawak and Kelantan to tap the many opportunities available in selling the more than 70 events and festivals happening across the country this year.
“With strong support from the private sector and industry players, we believe the government’s target of 29.4 million tourist arrivals and RM89 billion in tourist receipts are achievable.”
On a related matter, he predicted that 2015 would be a very good year for world tourism.
“According to International Air Transport Association (IATA), global air travel demand rose 9.5 per cent in 2014, driven largely by carriers serving Asia and the Middle East. This positive trend will continue this year.”
Meanwhile, Tourism Malaysia Kelantan director Nor Aida Ismail said Kelantan was dubbed the ‘Cradle of Malay Culture’.
“The entire state is like a living heritage as the people managed to keep alive age-old customs and traditions.”
In addition, she said Kelantan was renowned for its handicrafts, clothes, silverwares, batik and traditional arts such as kite-flying, silat (martial arts), and ‘wayang kulit’.
At the event, Nor Aida launched the ‘Kelantan Unique Package’ booklet, which offered 45 tour packages, including food trail, heritage tours, city tours, shopping, eco and adventure tours, religious tourism, and homestays.
AirAsia has since March last year provided thrice weekly direct flights from Kuching to Kota Bharu on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
Present at the gathering were Tourism Malaysia Sarawak deputy director Rosalina Abdul Rahim, AirAsia sales director Grace Chai, Malaysian Association of Hotels Sarawak chairman Mohammad Ibrahim Nordin, and Kelantan Tourist Information Centre general manager Mohd Zambri Ibrahim.