21 February 2020
Malaysia needs to focus more on tourism revenue from transit passengers embarking at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) and klia2 from various destinations worldwide.
This is a huge untapped tourist market that can bring in the much-needed tourism revenue especially now that tourism and the economy are much affected by the Covid-19 epidemic.
A large number of transit passengers have a few hours at hand and may want to visit nearby tourist attractions in Putrajaya, Kuala Lumpur and Selangor.
However, there is hardly any information for the transit passengers concerning visa requirements and other relevant issues that may be helpful to them in the Malaysian Immigration or Ministry of Tourism websites.
For long, this transit passenger sector has been ignored, thinking that this component is too small to exploit.
Every year, tens of thousands of transit passengers arrive at KLIA and they may want to make use of their free time visiting nearby tourist attractions instead of being confined to the airport waiting for their connecting flight.
Information useful for transit passengers should be available easily online as well as in the airport itself on television screens, posters and brochures.
The government is spending millions of ringgit promoting international and domestic tourism but has not done much for transit passenger tourism.
Transit passengers spend between five and 18 hours at the airport and some come in large groups. Most of them are not aware of the visa requirements and proper guidelines should be provided.
Staff at the Tourist Information Centre (TIC) should promote tourism actively and have the necessary information to help tourists.
This year being Visit Malaysia Year 2020, the government needs to explore all opportunities to boost tourism and its revenue, which is a sizeable component of the economy.
The transit passenger segment is one that needs the urgent attention and intervention of the Tourism Ministry and the government.
THOMAS ZACHARIA GEORGE
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the New Straits Times