The COVID-19 outbreak has caused some concerns especially for the Visit Malaysia 2020 initiative, he said. A state tourism contingency plan has been drafted and will be implemented upon approval in the following weeks, he added.
READ: Malaysia tightens health screening at all entry points
Citing a predictive data analytic study recently conducted by the State Tourism Exco’s Office, he said the overall international tourism sector (in-bound and out-bound) will be affected by the outbreak.
Chinese tourists take a souvenir photograph near the Malaysian landmark Petronas Twin Tower as they visit to the city center park in Kuala Lumpur, 01 December 2005. Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has slammed a deputy minister after he provoked a public furore in an apparent defence over the stripping of a Chinese woman by police, local media said. (File photo: AFP/Teh Eng Koon)
To date, the virus has killed more than 1,300 people and infected over 60,000 people around the world.
Malaysia thus far has a total of 19 confirmed cases.
Mr Mohamaddin Ketapi, the tourism minister, said Malaysia would restructure Visit Malaysia 2020 promotion plans to shift its focus away from China. Malaysia would instead woo other markets, including Europe, the Middle East, Central Asia and East Asia, according to the Star.
For a start, travellers have to brace themselves to navigate airports where millions of people convene in close-proximity.
“Upon the completion of the check-in process, the travellers will have to board the airplanes which are enclosed areas and suffer close-proximity with strangers, not to mention sharing the lavatories.
“All these factors form a major concern to international tourists,” he noted.
Passengers wearing face masks queue at the immigration counter upon arrival at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 in Sepang on January 29, 2020. Malaysia banned visitors from the Chinese city of Wuhan and its surrounding Hubei province on January 27, in a bid to contain the spread of a deadly virus. (Photo: Mohd Rasfan)
In contrast, domestic tourism typically allows families to use their private vehicles and public transportation, he said, adding that the latter is primarily used by locals and therefore deemed less risky.
Desaru’s public beach located close to the luxury hotels and waterpark. The currents here are considered rough and the water is generally not suitable for water sports and swimming. (Photo: Amir Yusof)
“It is a good time for domestic tourists to explore what Johor as the southern state of Malaysia has to offer,” she said, adding that the state has many attractions which are yet to be discovered even by Johoreans.
STAYING THE COURSE
Other states such as Penang are sanguine that they can ride out the storm.
Mr Yeoh Soon Hin, Penang’s state executive councillor overseeing tourism believes the impact of the novel coronavirus will be felt more acutely in the short term. He said Penang has a long term plan and will stay the course.
“The appearance of the virus, undeniably, would raise many concerns on travelling but we believe that the effects would not be long term, as we hope that once the virus is under control, we would be able to see the confidence restored in the travellers to travel again when they feel safe,” he said.
Additional reporting by Amir Yusof.
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