Malaysia vows to topple Singapore as top destination for Indian travellers

India is the sixth-largest source of travellers to Malaysia. The annual spending of Indian tourists visiting Malaysia was USD 650 million

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A view of Kuala Lumpur skyline in Malaysia February. Reuters

Malaysia is rolling out a tourism charm offensive to increase the share of Indian visitors travelling to Southeast Asian countries. While more than 1.4 million Indians visited Singapore in 2018, roughly half that number visited Malaysia. Under the 'Visit Malaysia Year 2020' rolled out by the Malaysian tourism ministry, the plan is to substantially raise the number of Indian tourists from the current figure of 600,311.

According to t the data with the ministry, India is the sixth-largest source of travellers to Malaysia. The annual spending of Indian tourists visiting Malaysia was USD 650 million. In the first six months of 2019, Indian visitors to Malaysia have seen an uptick with 354,000 Indians visiting the country, marking a 15.2 percent increase over the same period in the previous year.

Malaysia launched the Visit Malaysia Year 2020 eying 30 million tourist arrivals in the next year and a targeted $ 24 billion revenue. The Southeast Asian nation, which is already a choice destination for travellers around the world is pitching the country as a value-for-money eco-tourism destination along with its arts and culture, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Datuk MohamaddinKetapi, said.

Malaysia, which has a more diverse range of attractions compared with Singapore, is trying to figure out why then it's attracting fewer travellers than Singapore. The Malaysian tourism authorities held tourism roadshows in four Indian cities - Chennai, Madurai, Coimbatore and Cochin -- recently.

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A view of Malaysia's new National Palace from the main entrance, in Kuala Lumpur December 28, 2011. The new palace opened in November 2011 and is the official residence of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, or the king and head of state of Malaysia. REUTERS/Bazuki Muhammad (MALAYSIA - Tags: SOCIETY ROYALS)

"In terms of visa, the Malaysian government always facilitates Indian tourists' entry with ease, since the introduction of eNTRI and eVISA," said Muhammad Taib Ibrahim, Tourism Malaysia Senior Director. As many as 237 flights connect 14 cities in India directly to Malaysia, offering approximately 45,000 seats per week, the gathering was told.

Malaysian tourism officials want to highlight the fact that as many as seven percent of the population, or in other words more than 2 million people, in Malaysia are of Indian origin. "That Malaysia presents Indian visitors with a familiar environment and culture, plus easy availability of "comfort food" should alone make it an attractive destination for Indian travellers especially for those going abroad for the first time."

Among the wide variety of destinations that Malaysia offers are pristine beaches, rainforests, national parks and historic sites. Other attractions are Genting Highlands, Frasers Hill and Cameron Highlands."For trekking enthusiasts, there are various trails in the different nature reserves to try. For the more adventurous, they can attempt climbing Mount Kinabalu, the highest peak in Southeast Asia at 4,095 metres."

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