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Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz

KUALA LUMPUR – The tourism sector saw a strong recovery last year, with 26.7 million arrivals recorded compared to 25.7 million in 2015, moving closer towards achieving the 2020 target of 36 million tourist arrivals.

According to the National Transformation Programme Annual Report 2016 released by the Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu) today, receipts also registered an increase of RM13 billion, reaching RM82.1 billion in total, 49 per cent of the RM168 billion revenue targeted by 2020.

“The Ministry of Tourism and Culture (MOTAC)’s efforts in facilitating the Tourism National Key Economic Areas (NKEA) have borne strong results with the Ministry achieving 112 percent of its Key Performance Indicators (KPI), last year.

“It also contributed to RM73.3 billion in Gross National Income (GNI), driven by the Shopping, Ecotourism, Cruise and Business Events,” the report said.

It said the government’s decision to enable eVisa applications from China, including a visa-free option (eNTRI) saw immediate results with 26.7 per cent increase in Chinese visitors last year, and this facility was subsequently extended to India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Myanmar.

With a view of evaluating the progress of this NKEA towards its targets for 2020, MOTAC held a Tourism & Culture Lab 2.0 (Lab 2.0) to review existing tourism initiatives and to expand the areas of focus comprising culture, arts and heritage, crafts, birding, diving and homestay.

“The inclusion of culture, arts and heritage and crafts represents an opportunity for Malaysia to tap into the inherent strengths of its cultural diversity and also the National Recreational Scuba Diving Council (NDC) has been established,” it said.

Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz in the report said this effort has stimulated the industry to diversify its offerings and capitalise on its numerous local products and experiences.

In line with the National Ecotourism Plan 2016-2025 by MOTAC, ecotourism efforts will be focused on developing ecotourism clusters with set up for the Taiping-Batu Kurau area, besides Sabah and Sarawak.

Meanwhile, for business tourism, Malaysia Convention and Exhibition Bureau (MyCEB) continues to build on Malaysia’s prominence as one the region’s leading business destinations which saw a total of 341 business events, comprising corporate meetings, incentive travel conventions and exhibitions attracted more than 127,849 international delegates and delivered an estimated RM1.5 billion in economic impacts.

The reports said Malaysia looks set to build on these achievements in business tourism with new facilities including the expansion of the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (KLCC) and the Kota Kinabalu Convention Centre, which is scheduled for completion next year. – BERNAMA

SHAH ALAM – The planned debate between Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Culture and Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz at Karangkraf Complex on April 7 has been cancelled in the interest of security and public order.

Selangor deputy police chief, Datuk Mohd Fuad Abdul Latiff said 18 police reports had so far been received from the public who objected to the proposed debate.

“They are worried about personal and family safety (if the debate is to take place.

“Therefore, police have cancelled the permit to hold the debate, taking into account public interest and safety,” he told a press conference at the state police contingent headquarters, here, today.

Mohd Fuad said police intelligence also found that certain quarters would be creating trouble at the debate on that day.

Yesterday, Karangkraf Media Group managing director, Datuk Hussamuddin Yaacob said they received a letter on the cancellation of the permit to hold the debate from Shah Alam district police chief, ACP Shafien Mamat.

The cancellation was made one day after Hussamuddin announced that Karangkraf had obtained permission to hold the debate. – BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR – The Penang government has been urged to apply to the Economic Planning Unit in the Prime Minister’s Department on its proposed cable-car project in Bukit Bendera in the state.

Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz said the ministry had no problems supporting the move as it could encourage the growth of the tourism sector in Penang.

“If approved, the project can be implemented under the Fourth Rolling Plan of the 11th Malaysia Plan,” he said when winding-up debate on the motion of thanks for the royal address for the Home Ministry at the Dewan Rakyat sitting today.

He said previously, the ministry had allocated RM2.4 million under the First Rolling Plan of the 11th Malaysia Plan to implement a project to upgrade the bypath in Bukit Bendera, Penang which had been completed and opened for public use on Dec 22 last year.

He added the ministry will continue its efforts to improve the necessary tourism infrastructure in Penang to ensure that tourism products there would attract more tourists.

In a separate development, Mohamed Nazri said the government was prepared to make it easy for Chinese tourists to go to Tanjung Piai, Johor especially those coming in from Singapore.

He said he had informed Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi on the proposal to simplify the Immigration process for Chinese tourists coming via Singapore.

“If the people from China are coming in from Singapore, our Immigration does not need to screen them before entering Malaysia as the Immigration process in Singapore is already stringent,” he said. – BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR – Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM) will not be airing the live telecast of a debate between former prime minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed and Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz.

Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Dr Salleh Said Keruak said the debate, scheduled to take place in Kuala Kangsar, Perak on March 25, was purely between the two persons.

“The debate is not organised by RTM…We don’t have plans to air the live telecast of the debate,” he told a press conference here today.

Yesterday, Home Minister Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed said his ministry had approved the permit application for the debate after receiving it from the organiser.

The debate, to be held at the Sultan Azlan Shah Mara Junior Science College (MRSM), has been the talk of the town lately as it would touch on issues including the Bumiputra Malaysia Finance Limited (BMF).

Meanwhile, Salleh said the act of sabotaging the country’s economy was now a serious matter and a loss to the people.

He said the allegations by the opposition such as Malaysia was now an unstable country, its Employees Provident Fund (EPF) almost gone bankrupt and the government could not afford to pay the salaries of civil servants were irresponsible act.

“The opposition should criticise the government in a constructive manner and based on facts, not for their political mileage as the act of sabotaging the economy will be detrimental to Malaysians as a whole,” Salleh said.

The minister was commenting on the statement by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak yesterday that Malaysia almost lost a huge investment from Saudi Aramco due to the unpatriotic attitude of certain quarters who channelled incorrect information on this country to the Saudi Arabian oil company.

Salleh said members of the public were urged not to trust unverified information on social media and instead, to refer to SEBENARNYA.MY, a one-stop web portal developed to curb the spread of false news and for the public to check on the authenticity of news spread through social media.

“The government is responsible in providing accurate information to its people. The SEBENARNYA.MY portal is one of the government’s initiatives to provide real news to the society in rebutting slanders being spread on the social media,” he said.

In another development, asked on when the government would ban the screening of the film ‘Beauty and the Beast’ in the country should Walt Disney not meet the Film Censorship Board’s (LPF) request for a minor cut involving a gay scene, Salleh said LPF had strong grounds to issue the order.

“We’ll wait for the final decision by LPF,” he said.

In the meantime, Salleh advised the public not to make matters worse over the issue of diplomatic ties between Malaysia and North Korea by spreading false news on the social media.

He said this was because Kuala Lumpur would negotiate with Pyongyang on the nine Malaysians who were not allowed to leave the republic.

The diplomatic spat between Malaysia and North Korea began with the assassination of Kim Jong-nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (klia2) on Feb 13. – BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz has discouraged Malaysians from visiting North Korea, citing security reasons.

The Culture and Tourism Minister described North Korea as a “rogue” state which is highly unpredictable.

“I don’t encourage Malaysians to visit North Korea.

“You cannot predict what they will do,” he said after attending the launch of the 15th National Craft Day here Thursday.

He agreed with Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman that North Korea was under the delusion that Malaysia was in cahoots with a foreign power in the assassination of Kim Jong-nam on Feb 13.

North Korea had also demanded the return of Jong-nam’s body while blaming Malaysia for his death.

“They are a rogue state. This is not North Korea, this is Malaysia. We have our laws,” he said.

On calls to revoke free visas for North Koreans visiting Malaysia, Mohamed Nazri said the move was not necessary.

“There is no need to revoke the visa as North Koreans aren’t allowed to travel out of their country in the first place,” he said. He added that only North Korean officials travelled here.

Jong-nam, 45, the estranged half-brother of North Korea leader Kim Jong-un, was assassinated on Feb 13 at Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 by two women who poisoned him.

Four people have so far been arrested in relation to the case. They are Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong, 28; Indonesian Siti Aisyah, 25; North Korean Ri Jong-chol, 47, and Siti Aisyah’s boyfriend, Muhammad Farid Jalaluddin, a Malaysian.

The remand for Doan and Siti Aisyah was extended for a further seven days while the boyfriend would be released on police bail.

The four North Koreans who were involved in the murder have returned to Pyongyang.

Malaysian police have requested the North Korean government hand them over.

 

ALOR GAJAH: Tourism Malaysia offices throughout the country will be closed with immediate effect to avoid job duplication with state agencies in promoting tourist attractions.

Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz said the closure of the 14 tourism offices, however, did not involve the termination of services of the staff because they would be absorbed into the ministry’s headquarters and other departments.

He said the move was expected to be able to save about RM6mil in cost annually and it could be utilised for other expenses.

“Every state has its own Executive Councillor for Tourism and the State Economic Unit (UPEN), so we don’t want a duplication of the tasks between the agencies and the tourism authorities in every state.

“Although all the Tourism Malaysia offices will be closed, we will create five information offices, namely in Penang for the northern region, Terengganu for the eastern region, Johor for southern region, Sabah at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport, and Sarawak at the Kuching International Airport,” he said.

He disclosed this to reporters after launching the Chinese New Year and the first anniversary celebration for the Freeport A’Famosa Outlet here Monday.

On Jan 14, the ministry announced that at least four Tourism Malaysia offices abroad, namely in New York, the United States; Perth in Australia; Stockholm in Sweden; and Johannesburg in South Africa would be closed with immediate effect following the termination of Malaysia Airlines Bhd services there.

Meanwhile, Mohd Nazri projected that 30.5 million tourists would visit Malaysia throughout this year compared with 27 million last year. – Bernama