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Sabah a favourite place for American tourists Print E-mail
Tuesday, 24 February 2009 18:54

WASHINGTON: Sabah, known for its diving, golfing and green tourism, is the favourite Malaysian destination for American tourists after Penang, Salahuddin Mohd Ariffin, Vice-President and Director of Tourism Malaysia in New York disclosed this here Sunday.

“They seem to be attracted to nature, adventure, diving, golfing, and MICE meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions,” he said.

“Arrivals of American tourists in Malaysia went up nine per cent to 220,000 in 2008 from 2007 despite the gloomy economic scenario, he told Bernama at the closing of the two-day “Adventures in Travel Expo.”

“More than 55 per cent of the American tourists were in Malaysia for leisure, while the rest came for business,” he added.

The outlook looks good for the immediate future for the Malaysian tourism market. Tourism Malaysia had projected 15,000 tourists to arrive from the US for January this year.

The number surpassed Malaysia’s expectation and it showed an increase of 10 per cent in January 2009 to 17,000 arrivals, compared with the same period in January 2008.

According to research conducted by Tourism Malaysia, most of the US tourists came as independent tourists, 95 per cent of them made their bookings using the internet, while the rest came to Malaysia on travel packages using travel agents.

American tourists in Malaysia tend to be from the high-yield market, from the middle-to-upper income bracket, very conscious about price and always looking for better deals in the market, Salahuddin said.

“There is great potential to promote Malaysia using the internet, which is cheaper, more efficient, and provides better coverage and maximum reach all over the US,” he said.

Salahuddin said most travellers from the U.S. stay in Malaysia for about 10 nights, “which is a good long-haul market,” and they travel all over Malaysia. Other areas of growth are “Malaysia as a medical retreat” and “Malaysia as My Second Home programme” with great interest shown by foreign retirees to retire in Penang, Kuala Lumpur and Cameron Highlands.

Interest appears to be high on “green travel” in Malaysia. The Tourism Malaysia booth was well visited and the team from New York had to replenish the table with brochures, CDs and DVDs which were quickly snatched by visitors.

Norizah Abidin, Deputy Director of New York Tourism Malaysia, said the team brought to Washington six boxes of tourism materials and they almost ran out on the first day.

“National tourism boards from other countries are projecting an uncertain outlook from February onwards, but Malaysia hopes to be able to maintain its growth or at least acquire a single digit growth from February to April.

“February is a big question mark,’ he said. Salahuddin, however, believed that the economic situation in the US was temporary. “The US is still our number one trading partner and this market should not be neglected at all,” he added.

 

Source: New Sabah Times, 24 Feb 2009



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