VM2020 revamped over sharp drop in Chinese tourists

By NUR HAZIQAH A MALEK / Pic By HUSSEIN SHAHARUDDIN

THE Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (Motac) has restructured its promotional campaign for Visit Malaysia 2020 (VM2020) to aid in mitigating the sharp decline of tourist arrival from China, following the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak.

Motac Minister Datuk Mohamaddin Ketapi (picture) said the outbreak crisis has significantly affected the number of arrivals from the republic.

“As such, Motac has drafted a strategy for ‘quick wins’ for the short-distance market, namely the Asean region, as an alternative campaign for the country’s tourism industry’s restoration.

“The VM2020 campaign has also been restructured to focus on the markets in the European countries, Australia, Middle East, Central Asia, Russia and East Asia to attract quality tourists who will boost the tourism receipts in Malaysia,” he said at the media briefing after chairing the Tourism Recovery Action Committee meeting yesterday.

The decision to focus on other markets was due to the tourism workers’ concerns on increased exposure to contracting the 2019-nCoV.

Meanwhile, Motac also plans to work closely with local airlines such as Malaysia Airlines Bhd, AirAsia Group Bhd and Malindo Airways Sdn Bhd to open new flight routes to the new markets it plans to focus on.

“We will promote our country more aggressively in the Asean region, Central Asia and so on, as well as utilise Malaysiabased airlines as they are now limiting services to China.

“It will take a very long time to open new routes, however, because it involves negotiations between governments,” he said.

Mohamaddin added that there have been suggestions to use chartered flights, especially from Central Asia.

“Motac will also hold town hall meetings with industry players to receive their input and concerns in restoring the tourism sector,” he said.

The meetings will take place on Feb 10 in Selangor, followed by Feb 12 in Sabah, Feb 15 in Penang and Feb 17 in Johor.

In the meantime, the ministry plans to promote domestic tourism, noting that toll prices have been lowered to make space for travelling locals.

As of yesterday, the total positive 2019- nCoV cases in Malaysia stands at 10 (at press time), noting that there has been a first confirmed case involving a Malaysian.

The first four confirmed cases were noted as of Jan 25, and three more were on Jan 29.

Meanwhile, the death count from the outbreak stands at 426 (as at press time) in China, with 20,438 recorded cases, while there were 151 cases in 23 other countries and regions.

The first death confirmed outside of China was reported to have occurred in the Philippines.

Malaysia has imposed a travel ban only for Chinese nationals originating from the Hubei Province, whereby Wuhan is the provincial capital.