At this year’s WTM, Tourism Malaysia emphasised the importance of eco-tourism in its long-term strategy to attract more than 36 million tourists by 2020.

On hand to comment at the Malaysia Pavilion during World Travel Market was Dato' Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz, minister of tourism and culture for Malaysia. He said: “This is a big announcement in that by 2020 we want to achieve 36 million tourists and 35.6billion Euros in receipts; it’s a big target and that’s precisely why we declared 2020 a ‘Visit Malaysia’ year.

“To achieve this, the main theme will be that of eco-tourism and this is something which is very important to us. We have the oldest rainforests in the world which cover more than 50% of the country but in order to conserve them we need to educate local villages to live in a peaceful co-existence with nature and by promoting eco-tourism as a main staple of a visit in 2020. We have beautiful beaches, stunning rivers, green mountains and blue skies, and we know that many Europeans travel to Malaysia through their love for nature - their support is very important and we do hope that 2020 will be a year where many tourists from Europe will come visit us and help us to conserve our environment.”

Exemplifying the positive power eco-tourism can have, Sabah has launched a rural tourism initiative geared towards revitalising short trips, thanks to its natural and unspoilt environment. The state recently halted its logging activities five years ago to instead prioritise tourism. The minister commented: “As a result this is their second year where the income from tourism has exceeded the profit from logging. They have had a very positive experience and now they know how important tourism is they have just launched their rural tourism campaign. I think it’s really good for Malaysia and is what we in the federal government want to happen in tourism.”

UK marketing efforts in 2018 will focus on increasing awareness of the natural and human assets across the country, including Kinabalu National Park and Gunung Mulu National Park, George Town in Penang, and the four UNESCO World Heritage sites in the Lenggong Valley.

The destination welcomed 400,269 British visitors in 2016 and the UK remains Malaysia’s number one European source market. With this in mind the tourism board has planned a series of sales blitzes in the UK and Ireland in conjunction with airline partners, and will continue in its direct approach to educate and inform frontline agents. The sales team is planning dedicated Malaysia days with Emerald Travel and selected Kuoni stores and will be inviting agents to participate in its mega fam programme.

twn Are you sure that you want to switch to desktop version?