(eTN) – The Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tan Sri Dato’ Haji Muhyiddin Bin Mohd. Yassin, declared the Pacific Asia Travel Association’s (PATA) 2012 Annual Conference open today (Saturday, April 21, Malaysia time) at the The Royale Chulan, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He joined PATA Chairman Hiran Cooray and Malaysia Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak in striking the drums to open the conference.
In his address, he reminded that expectations for global tourism arrivals are 1 billion for 2012 and 1.8 billion for 2013. He suggested that Asia will have the largest growth due to the unique sights that Asia-Pacific nations have to offer.
He appealed for country tourism officials to be responsive to the needs of the private industry and to smooth border facilities and ease visa processing, and he confirmed that Malaysia is ready to take a lead in this endeavor. The Deputy PM said Malaysia recognizes tourism as one of its 12 main economic pillars. Malaysia is expecting a 45 percent growth in tourism over the next few years.
The Deputy PM also mentioned PATA’s next generation initiative, saying this is important for regional tourism strategies and building networks among PATA members. The concept of cultural conservation, which PATA believes in, is reflected in Malaysia’s slogan: Malaysia is Asia, the Deputy PM said. He also spoke about the new tourism Malaysia initiative of home stays and invited PATA delegates to stay longer in the country and experience this new initiative for themselves. He said it is important to develop new strategies and take into account that nature and green are not sacrifices for the purpose of expansion.
The Deputy PM said he was pleased that this was the 4th annual conference to be held in Malaysia since 1972, and he had the pleasure of attending all of them. He congratulated Dr. Ng Yen Yen, Malaysia’s Minister of Tourism, for her passion about tourism and for receiving the PATA Life Membership award from PATA’s Chairman Hiran Cooray at the opening of the conference.
Dato’ Sri Dr. Ng Yen Yen, Malaysia’s Minister of Tourism, delivered the welcome address and said the 24.7 million arrivals in Malaysia in 2011, makes tourism the second-largest contributor to the country’s national income. The Minister told the audience of Pacific Asia tourism experts and officials how Malaysia is now focusing on tourism as its most important export. Dato’ Sri Ng pointed out the global responsibility of tourism destinations to work in a global world and show responsibility when it comes to the environment. She also touched on governments taxing outgoing tourism to be regretted in a world where destinations should work together. Dato’ Sri Ng said governments, including Malaysia, had not given tourism the importance it always deserves, and Malaysia has changed this and will continue to do so.
ETN Publisher Juergen T. Steinmetz attended the PATA event along with eTN’s Senior Asia Editor, Luc Citrinot.