(Yicai Global) May 16 -- Malaysia will improve its ties with China in a bid to attract 4 million Chinese tourists this year, said Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz, the Southeast Asian country’s Minister of Tourism and Culture.
The Belt and Road Marathon Malaysia will be held on October 1 this year, China News Service quoted Nazri as saying at a dinner party in Beijing. The event aims to improve the nation’s image as a sport tourist destination and attract more active travelers from China, which is the country’s third largest source of tourists, behind Singapore and Indonesia.
Last year, Malaysia took in 2.1 million Chinese tourists, 27 percent more than the year prior. In the first quarter of this year, it welcomed 560,000 visitors from China, up 8.3 percent from a year earlier.
Tourism is the second largest source of foreign exchange in Malaysia, Nazri said, adding that it is also the sixth largest economic contributor and a driver for other sectors, such as catering, hotels and the service industry.
“Chinese fishing enthusiasts will be our key targets this year,” he added. Malaysia is a top choice for Chinese fishermen looking to travel overseas and hosts many contests every year for elite and professional competitors.
Over 420 flights are made between Malaysia and Chinese cities each week, he said. This year, the country will make joint efforts with China’s chartered airlines to provide non-stop services from North China to the Malaysian state of Sabah.
Xining, in China’s northwestern province of Qinghai, will provide whole-year chartered flights to Kuala Lumpur, Nazri added.
Malaysia offers simplified visa procedures for Chinese tourists, including an electronic access policy which makes life much more convenient for visitors from the world’s most populous country, he added.