MALAYSIA will be going "green" to get the tourist dollar. Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said said major industry players will be promoting the country's forests and eco-tourism.
"We have rainforests, mangrove forests, beautiful rivers, mountains and national parks and we should promote these in a big way internationally.
"Why are we selling our infrastructure or even beaches to foreigners who have probably have better buildings and great beaches at home."
Azalina was recently in her constituency of Pengerang, Johor Baru, to visit new eco-tourism products including Pulau Tanjung Surat, Sungai Lebam, Tanjung Belungkor and Tanjung Pengelih.
Some of these places are just a 30min boat ride from Singapore. Daily, hundreds of Singaporeans go to Pengerang to visit nearby Desaru and other attractions there.
Azalina said the Ministry is looking at promoting both countries - Malaysia and Singapore - as 'two countries, one destination'.
"They have the infrastructure and we have eco-tourism. Both countries can complement each other because we have different things to offer."
Azalina said that it is important to sell what is unique to us and it would be pointless to sell buildings and shopping complexes which are also available in Singapore.
Arrivals from Singapore total over 10 million annually and, she said, we should work closely with our neighbours. She feels that as the country's main and most important 'salesman', Tourism Malaysia should be innovative in its approach.
"We have to come up with interesting ideas and ways to sell the country and not stick to one tried and tested method. We don?t want half-baked selling and Tourism Malaysia officials must be committed to using the best approach and method possible."
The Ministry and Tourism Malaysia want more tourists who stay longer and are looking at increasing the average night stay from seven nights to two weeks and spending per person to increase from RM2,000 to RM4,000.