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Rid Malaysia of 'cheap vacation spot' tag, minister urged – Free Malaysia Today

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Tourist Guides Council has called for immediate upgrades to tourism facilities and attractions so that Malaysia will be seen as more than just a cheap holiday destination.
The council’s president, Jimmy Leong, said tourism minister Tiong King Sing should look at “quality tourism” rather than “quantity tourism” by marketing Malaysia as a value-for-money holiday destination.
Speaking to FMT, he noted that Malaysia had been falling behind its Asean neighbours in recent years and said there was a dire need to bump up the nation’s tourist arrival numbers.
“Asean is a big market with even Thailand and other countries moving away from cheap tourism,” he said. “Therefore, we should stop selling our destination as a cheap holiday place.
“We should not be going back to the pre-pandemic era when Malaysia was involved in zero-cost tours where shopping was used to pay the costs for visitors’ holiday packages, especially for those from mainland China.”

He was referring to low-priced packages in which tourists were pressured into paying high prices for food, lodging and souvenirs.
“This tarnished our image and is not sustainable,” Leong said. “It is our hope the minister would understand this had propelled our industry in the wrong direction.”
Former tourism minister Nazri Aziz told FMT he believed Tiong’s experience as special envoy to China would see him drawing many Chinese tourists to Malaysia, being among the top tourism spenders in the country.
Nazri and Leong also said Putrajaya should consider reviving the “Malaysia Truly Asia” concept to draw tourists by immersing them in an authentic Malaysian experience.
Leong said the brand was popular when it was introduced and reflected Malaysia’s identity in the tourism sector.
“This concept has proven successful in selling our destinations and products in Malaysia to the world,” he said. “It describes Malaysia well in three simple words.”
He said the concept could be updated so that tourists can be introduced to local events and experiences that spotlight Malaysia’s culture through food, village homestays and local lifestyles.
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