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4:48pm 17/01/2023
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Don’t block the recovery of tourist industry
By:Sin Chew Daily

We must welcome our guests with open arms. Being extreme will only send the potential visitors away.

Although the coronavirus pandemic is still hovering above us, with the situation gradually improving, many countries have eased their travel restrictions, paving the way for the steady recovery of the global tourist industry.

The reopening of China’s borders this month serves as a powerful booster for the global tourist industry, with many countries looking forward to the arrival of Chinese tourists to help bring back the better days of their tourist industry.

China is the second largest economy in the world and its tourists are known for their generous consumption power.

China was the world’s biggest outbound tourism market before the pandemic, spending around US$255 billion (approximately RM1 trillion) overseas each year.

But with Chinese tourist arrival abruptly halted in 2020, the tourist industry in many countries has been badly hit, forcing many travel agencies to go bust.

Tourism is one of the key economic pillars of Malaysia, bringing in remarkable foreign exchange earnings for the country every year, with the notable exception during the pandemic years.

With China now opening up its borders and lifting all travel restrictions on its nationals, it is imperative that travel-related businesses in this country be adequately prepared for the sudden influx of tourists and harvest the fruit of the so-called “revenge tourism.”

No doubt the Malaysian tourist industry was hit hard during the pandemic, and many travel-related businesses found themselves struggling to survive. As such, they should make the best of the opportunity now to stage a powerful rebound from the bottom of the valley.

As mentioned earlier, tourism is one of the most important pillars of the country’s economy, and the prosperity of this industry will have a strong influence on the overall economy, especially in view of the fact that the Malaysian economy urgently requires a powerful stimulant to kickstart its recovery.

Tourism makes up about 15.95% of the country’s GDP, providing 3.6 million job opportunities for Malaysians, equivalent to 23.6% of the total workforce. This speaks volumes of the tremendous importance of the tourist industry.

As such, the government must work with the relevant operators to revitalize the country’s tourist industry in order to inject a new lease of life into the local market and spearhead the development of the national economy.

For the tourist industry to take off, we will need to have attractive selling points that can lure the foreigners in the first place.

Malaysia is richly endowed with picturesque natural attractions, pristine beaches, heritage buildings and ruins steeped in history, diverse culture and mouthwatering culinary delights…elements that fully manifest the country’s unique Asian charms.

According to Airbnb, Kuala Lumpur was ranked the second most popular destination worldwide in the third quarter of 2022, well ahead of other regional tourist destinations.

Without the slightest doubt, Malaysia has remained a highly attractive destination in the eyes of many international tourists. But to take our tourist industry to greater heights, we will need to have effective government policies and efficiency to go along with our unparalleled travel resources.

This is because inappropriate government policies and poor efficiency will turn many potential visitors away, no matter how marvelous our sightseeing attractions are.

All relevant government departments must be adequately prepared for the restart of the travel industry. Take for example, congestion at immigration counters at major entry gateways must be addressed. As tourism, arts and culture minister Tiong King Sing has said, although there are 40 immigration counters at KLIA, only 20 are actually operating and the immigration department must ensure that all 40 counters are open in order to shorten the passengers’ waiting time for immigration clearance.

There have been complaints that foreigners have to be held back for three hours at the airport!

Additionally, the authorities must also ensure that unnecessary red tape will not bog down on the local tourist industry.

Japanese couple iChang and Jimmy, who have been ardently promoting Malaysian food on their YouTube channel, revealed in their video that they had applied for Malaysia’s newly launched DE Rantau Nomad Visa last October, but had yet to be approved. As a result, they were forced to leave Malaysia momentarily.

Although the authorities later confirmed that their application had been approved, what we can’t understand is why it took them so long to process the application. Something must have gone wrong somewhere!

Of course, the overall environment of our society also plays a very crucial role. We must welcome our guests with open arms. Being extreme will only send the potential visitors away.

PAS MP for Permatang Pauh Muhammad Fawwaz Muhammad Jan recently hit out at a mall for hosting a major beer promotion event. Although the move has somewhat boosted the MP’s image among his supporters, it has nonetheless hurt the local tourist industry and the society as a whole.

For the sake of the country and society, it is essential for politicians to think twice before they act. Now that the tourist industry is on the path of recovery, we really don’t want anyone to block its progress.

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