Racial, religious rhetoric scares tourists, says minister

Ravin Palanisamy

Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Tiong King Sing said politicians should stop racial and religious rhetoric that could harm the tourism industry. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, September 19, 2023.

TOURISM, Arts and Culture Minister Tiong King Sing said politicians should stop racial and religious rhetoric that could harm the tourism industry. 

He said playing up racial and religious sentiment could frighten away tourists and impact the country’s economy. 

“Most importantly, we have to work together (to promote Malaysia). 

“Don’t play up racial and religious issues for everything. I’m being frank.

“Tourists from China have let me know (of such issues). If we get such stories, I (as a tourist) also would consider whether to visit such a country or not,” the Bintulu lawmaker said in parliament today. 

Tiong was responding to Mohd Radzi Md Jidin [Putrajaya-Perikatan Nasional] who asked about the steps taken to attract more international tourists to the country to spur the economy.

Tiong said Malaysia recorded 26.1 million foreign tourists in 2019. 

Most countries, including Malaysia, shut their borders in 2020 following the Covid-19 outbreak. The nation only started accepting international tourists in April 2022. 

Taking into account the limited flight connectivity as well as China’s reopening of borders in March this year, Tiong said the ministry estimated that 16.1 million foreign tourists would visit the country this year.

“Until the third week of August 2023, the number of foreign tourists was 12.17 million. 

“With four more months until the year comes to an end, the ministry hopes that the number of tourists will continue to increase beyond the target,” Tiong said.  

He added that loosening visa requirements for tourists was being considered as one of the steps to achieve this aim. – September 19, 2023.

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