Malaysia steps up campaign to get more airlines on-board tourism fund

An AirArabia flight prepares for take-off at KLIA.

SEPANG: Putrajaya is making efforts to attract more airlines from the Middle East to be part of the Joint International Development Tourism Programme (JIDTP), a fund set up to boost tourism.

Tourism and Culture Minister Mohammadin Ketapi said the fund has seen a take-up rate of 32% from local and foreign airline operators since it was announced this year.

“Many airlines are being targeted. We are currently in talks with eight airlines. We are looking at two to three airlines to land this year,” he told a press conference after attending a ceremony to welcome AirArabia’s inaugural flight from Sharjah to KLIA here today.

The seven-hour flight to Sharjah operates daily from KLIA.

JIDTP is a joint effort between Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) and Tourism Malaysia. They contributed RM10 million each to the fund.

Among the initiatives planned are collaboration between airlines, the operation of inaugural and charter flights, and promotion of high-yield niche tourism.

Meanwhile, MAHB group CEO Raja Azmi Raja Nazuddin called for more tourism industry players to take advantage of JIDTP.

“The funds are there. Use it, so that more airlines will come in to this country,” he said.

In his speech, Mohammadin said that the West Asian market has always been crucial to Malaysia, with a total of 315,937 tourists from the region visiting last year, an increase of about 25% over the same period in 2017.

“This year, our target is to have 337,100 tourists from the West Asia region, and I believe that the establishment of AirArabia’s Sharjah-Kuala Lumpur route will certainly help with increasing tourist arrivals from this region.”

He said Malaysia is eyeing 30 million tourists from all over the world next year.