KUALA LUMPUR: Tourism, arts, and culture minister Tiong King Sing told the opposition today to work with his ministry to promote tourism, instead of playing with racial sentiments that could draw foreign tourists away.
He said that according to complaints he received from Chinese tourists, the racial remarks made by Perikatan Nasional’s leaders have made them hesitant about visiting Malaysia.
“Let’s not engage in divisive actions. I’ll be honest … tourists from China have informed us that if we talk like that, they are uncertain whether they should go (to Malaysia),” he said in his winding-up speech for the 12th Malaysia Plan’s mid-term review.
Tiong said his ministry is prepared to assist the tourism destinations in the various states.
He said some MPs did not attend meetings conducted by his ministry, despite the invitations extended to them in response to their suggestions on developing tourism in their constituencies.
“The suggestions were good, but we need to cooperate. When the ministry invited them for a meeting, some did not attend.
“During the budget, we will invite the MPs (involved with tourism), and we hope they can give their cooperation,” he said.
Tiong also said 12.7 million tourists had visited Malaysia as of the third week of August.
He said the ministry hoped that this year’s target of 16.1 million tourists would be achieved.