Tourist Arrivals To Johor Up, Says Freddie Long

JOHOR BAHARU, Sept 16 (Bernama) — Tourist arrival figures are up as the Johor government looks to the Far East to further enhance the numbers.

The state capital, the gateway for tourists entering Malaysia via Singapore, recorded a 21 per cent increase between January and June as compared to the same period last year, with 9.6 million arrivals compared to 12.3 million.

"Thanks to all the efforts and promotions of the Visit Malaysia Year 2007 campaign by the Tourism Ministry.

"It shows how important Johor Baharu is as 60 per cent of the arrivals come in via the state capital," said state executive councillor for Tourism and Environment Freddie Long after opening the 3rd Johor Lantern Festival at Danga Bay here last night.

And to further boost the arrival figures, the State Tourism Action Council was looking at bringing in tourists from north-western China and the breakaway republics from the former Soviet Union or Commonwealth of Independent States.

"This is a follow-up from the recent visit to Xinjiang and its capital Urumqi by a Johor state delegation led by Menteri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman where we met tourism officials there.

"And we saw vast potentials there especially the countries bordering Xinjiang like Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. They are all landlocked countries and beaches and tropical forests are something alien to them.

"They all have the so-called Russian culture where the idea of a holiday is all about the sea and the sand which Johor has plenty," said Long.

He said Johor Tourism had identified 44 travel agents based in Urumqi and a few travel writers based there to bring them over to Johor so that they can promote the state as a tourist destination.

With the introduction of the Johor Baharu-Macau AirAsia flight and the soon- to-be-reintroduced Johor Baharu-Jakarta flight, tourist arrivals are expected to peak further, he said.

"The JB-Macau daily flights are about 65 per cent full now and I expect the load to increase. And by end of the month, JB-Jakarta flight will commence too and surely the figures will increase further.

"In fact, it would be fair to assume that a 25 per cent overall increase in tourist arrivals here compared to last year can be expected," he said.

He also said the number of Singaporeans making daily trips to here are also increasing.

"We used to have an average of 40,000 Singapore passport holders crossing the Causeway daily but the latest figures I have are 70,000. Why? I think the lower crime rate and less negative publicity in the Singapore newspapers help," he added.

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