Tourism Malaysia courts tourists at New York Times travel show

The New York office of Tourism Malaysia, which made a strong pitch at the Feb 6-8 New York Times Travel Show, faced fierce competition from other Asian countries vying to get a share of the United States market that has been hard hit by recession.

Though it is much smaller than other international tourism shows such as the ITB Berlin or the World Travel Mart of London, the New York Times Travel Show is considered an important window on the east coast of the US for showcasing a country’s tourism potential.

Malaysia Tourism Promotion
Malaysia Tourism Promotion

“The economic conditions may not be rosy right now but we need to demonstrate our presence at this show to create an awareness among American tourists about Malaysia and highlight the attractions available to them,” Salahuddin Mohd Ariffin, director of Tourism Malaysia New York told Bernama.

He said the New York office would work closely with non-government organizations (NGOs) and tour operators to promote Malaysia as a destination.

“With this partnership, we should be able to minimize the overheads and expenses while maximizing the returns,” he said.

But Malaysia’s tourism traffic, so far, seems to have been unaffected by the recession and the severe cuts in foreign travel by both leisure and business travelers.

Indeed, according to Salahuddin, Malaysia clocked a total of 220,000 arrivals in 2008 from the US, a nine per cent growth over the previous year.

In December 2008, he said, Malaysia received 19,805 visitors from the US, a 18.7 per cent increase over the corresponding month of the previous year when 16,680 arrivals from the US were recorded.

Salahuddin said Tourism Malaysia’s booth at the New York Times Travel Show had a steady stream of inquisitive visitors.

“That’s a good sign. Inquisitiveness is the first tangible sign of interest,” remarked John York, an American tour operator, who was observing visitors to the Asian booths.

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