The recent claims that direct flights between China and Malaysia are lacking compared to flights from China to Singapore and Thailand are inaccurate, said Dato Sri Tiong King Sing.
According to the Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister, even budget airlines such as AirAsia have been actively resuming direct flights to and from many underserved cities in China.
“I myself have been taking chartered flights from certain cities there recently,” he said in a statement posted on his Facebook page.
Malaysia Inbound Tourism Association (Mita) president Uzaidi Udanis recently told The Star that the lack of daily flights from China and the use of widebody aircraft on available-butlimited flights at present do not bode well for the country’s tourism industry.
He said Malaysia was losing out to Singapore and Thailand, which provided direct flights to and from China, and that tourists were not keen on chartered flights as they were more expensive than commercial flights.
“We used to see some three million Chinese tourists during the Chinese New Year and Golden Week holidays in May and October. Hopefully, we can make it up and attract more in October,” he was quoted as saying.
The Golden Week in China is a week-long holiday where the Chinese would make the most of the holidays to go travelling.
Tiong pointed out that there have been several dialogues and discussions with relevant parties concerning direct flights between China and Malaysia.
“The reality is that many technical issues and considerations must be considered before all routes are opened to the public in due time.
“In previous dialogues, I had urged the tourism operators to report the problems that they faced to me or the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture.
“The feedback received so far has been limited,” he revealed and appealed to tourism players to bring up issues that can be tackled together to promote and revive the tourism industry towards significant economic contribution again.
Tiong acknowledged that without an encouraging influx of tourists from China during its Labour Day Golden Week holiday season, some have viewed the recovery of the local tourism industry with pessimism with complaints directed at restrictions on direct flights.
“This uneasiness and concerns among industry operators are understandable.
“However, all industry players including tour guides, catering providers, and other sectors must maintain a rational and open attitude to working with the government in order to turn things around.
“We must continue to dialogue, brainstorm, and work together to tackle these challenges, promote tourism to Malaysia, and create new breakthroughs,” he said.
He urged all tourism players to jointly discuss formulating more effective policies and measures to enhance Malaysian tourism’s competitiveness, through improving service quality, innovating marketing strategies, reducing costs, raising efficiency, and removing red tape to better attract travellers.
“To do all this, the government and the tourism industry must continue to work hand in hand to realise sustainable development for tourism prosperity,” he said.
He also stressed that tourism businesses must not solely rely on the government’s promotional efforts.
“Rather, both must work together to find weaknesses in the tourism sector and improve policy-making for marketing guidelines.
“Service quality, word-ofmouth and other similar selling points must be checked for improvement, including turning around the delay in hiring tourism workers, which had resulted in a tour guide shortage,” he said.
He added that such issues can only be effectively solved when the government and industry work together.
On a related issue concerning the continuation of visa-onarrival for Chinese tourists, Tiong said this matter is currently being discussed.
The Borneo Post