BALIK PULAU: Malaysia has become the most popular destination for tourists from China, having recorded the highest number of tourist arrivals from the republic.
Deputy Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Muhammad Bakhtiar Wan Chik said tourist arrivals from China showed an increase of 20-30%, fending off allegations that the number of Chinese tourists visiting Malaysia had dwindled.
“There is a sharp increase of tourists from China, with statistics showing the number of their arrivals up to September this year is as much as the total number of Chinese tourists who visited Malaysia last year.
“A total of 2.2 million Chinese tourists visited Malaysia last year, and for this year, up to October, the number has reached 2.5 million.
“We expect the number to reach three million as targeted this year,” he told reporters at the boria fun ride flag-off ceremony held in conjunction with the 2018 Boria Festival here today.
Hence, he said, the claim by certain quarters that Chinese nationals were avoiding Malaysia was not true.
“They are mistaken when they say Chinese tourists are avoiding Malaysia since Pakatan Harapan took over the government’s administration. The statistics show otherwise,” he added.
Bakhtiar, who is also the Balik Pulau MP, said China topped the list with the highest number of tourist arrivals in Malaysia, followed by tourists from Singapore, Indonesia and Brunei.
He said the number of tourists from Korea had also increased, with statistics showing more than half a million Korean tourists had visited Malaysia so far this year, compared with 484,528 people last year.
He expected the overall tourist arrivals for this year to be 26.4 million, exceeding last year’s target of 25.9 million tourists.
According to Bakhtiar, the tourism sector is important as 3.4 million workers are involved in the industry.
On the Boria Festival to be held until tomorrow at the Balik Pulau Polytechnic, he said boria needed to be revitalised so that it would not become extinct because it had cultural significance, especially for the Penang people.
“This is part of our efforts to revitalise boria so it would not become extinct.
“It used to be performed only by men but now it also involves female performers. It is hoped that by promoting boria, we can help to preserve the state’s cultural heritage,” he said.