Setting the tone: Dr Ng taking part in the 1M4U dance with the public during the mini carnival at the Queensbay Mall outdoor car park in George Town.
GEORGE TOWN: Although 2014 may be a year away, the Tourism Ministry is wasting no time in making early preparations to woo the targeted 28 million tourists.
Besides a grand tourism carnival to create awareness in the public and private sectors, Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said her ministry would also reintroduce the salam gesture to welcome visitors to the country. “It’s symbolic and let’s try to make it a natural habit for everyone,” she said. The gesture requires one to put his right hand over the left collarbone as a courtesy greeting.
Dr Ng said people should understand that Visit Malaysia Year 2014 was good for the economy as it would generate income for the nation. “It (tourism) is our third largest foreign exchange earner and generates 1.8 million jobs.
“If tourism prospers, the economy will, too,” she said at the mini carnival promotional campaign for VMY14 at the Queensbay Mall outdoor car park here yesterday.
She said the ministry targeted 28.8 million tourists to visit the country next year. “Last year, we had 25.03 million tourists. We expect 26 million for this year. “We are heading towards achieving our 2020 target of 36 million tourists a year,” she said.
Dr Ng also said the ministry aimed to reduce foreign workers in the tourism and related sectors.
As for Penang, Dr Ng said 127 hotels had been rated and urged the rest to do so to achieve a common standard. She said there should be an additional nine hotels with a total of 2,016 rooms in Penang by 2016. “We need at least 9,000 five-star hotel rooms in the state by 2020.”
She added that Penang should be more competitive in tourism because it was the leader back in the 1960s and 1970s.