As Tourism Malaysia pursues its goal of 36 million annual tourists by 2020, it is looking to lure travellers with an interest in diving, golf and other niche areas to help it boost its numbers.
“Nowadays tourists come in many forms – their interests are very much diversified,” deputy director general promotions Azizan Noordin told Travel Today.
He highlighted diving as a major focus for the tourism body as it promotes its dive sites on the east and west coasts and also in the South China Sea around Tioman Island.
“You can dive here at any time of the year,” he said. “We can offer even night diving and wreck diving.”
In addition, it is driving awareness of its golf offering with more than 200 golf courses across the country – particularly popular with the business events market.
Meanwhile, the Formula One Grand Prix continues to prove popular. This year, Malaysia will also welcome the Super Bikes tournament as part of its Visit Malaysia Year 2014 campaign, with other new events also on the cards.
“We’ve definitely got a very special year lined up with a lot of different activities almost every months,” Noordin said. “There will be a lot of big events besides the usual events.”
For example, it will host a carnival-esque Colours of Malaysia celebration, along with a contemporary art show and gourmet food festival in October.
The government has boosted the tourism budget by 30% to fund the Visit Malaysia Year campaign which is expected to help the destination’s international visitation “leapfrog” in order to meet its 2020 target, Noordin revealed.
It is the fourth time the tourism body has run the Visit Malaysia Year promotion.
“When we held it in 1990, numbers went up 58% as compared to 1989, from 4.2 million it went up to 7.5m,” he said.
It was most recently held in 2007 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Malaysian independence, with numbers jumping from 18 million to 21 million.
This year, despite various tourism challenges, the destination hopes to achieve 28 million, up from up from 25.7 million last year.