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By Muin Abdul Majid
DUBAI, May 5 (Bernama) — Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen and Oman Air officials are hopeful that the carrier’s new service to Kuala Lumpur will at least double the number of visitors from Oman to Malaysia.
Data showed that 15,280 Omanis visited the Southeast Asian country in 2009.
“This accessibility will not only encourage more Omanis and people from the surrounding areas to come to Malaysia but also provides Malaysians an opportunity to see a part of the world that we read a lot about,” Dr Ng said.
The minister was speaking after talks with Oman Air chief executive officer Peter Hill and chief commercial officer Barry Brown at the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2010, which opened here Tuesday.
Present at the meeting was Tourism Malaysia’s Deputy Director-General for Planning, Azizan Noordin.
Oman Air, the national carrier of the Sultanate of Oman, began the four weekly flights between Muscat and the Malaysian capital on May 1.
Dr Ng observed that Muscat was situated on the route for the haj and umrah pilgrimage.
“I believe that many Malaysian Muslims when they go for the haj, they probably would just like to stop by and see Muscat before they go back.
“And of course for non-Muslims, Oman, and Muscat itself, is very exotic,” the minister said, adding that the new service was another feather in the cap in bilateral relations between Malaysia and Oman.
In thanking Oman Air for its decision to fly to Kuala Lumpur, Dr Ng said it would further boost Malaysia’s medical tourism and education tourism initiatives as well as the Malaysia My Second Home programme.
Meanwhile, Hill did not rule out the possibility of Oman Air mounting daily flights to Kuala Lumpur.
“I hope before too long it’ll be daily. We’re new on the route but already we’re seeing that several of the flights are already full.
“I’m really pleased, it’s a great start for us,” Hill said of the service to Kuala Lumpur, Oman Air’s 33rd destination and the second in the Far East, after Bangkok.
He also said Oman Air was looking forward to perhaps connecting with Malaysia Airlines’ services to bring customers to Australasia and North Pacific and the rest of Southeast Asia.
On why Oman Air had decided to spread its wings to Malaysia, Hill said: “Malaysia made us decide to fly to Kuala Lumpur. For the Omanis, Malaysia is a natural holiday destination.
“It’s a Muslim country, you have exotic scenery and wildlife, and it’s a very safe place. All of these ingredients are important to the Arabs.”
He noted that many Omanis now had second homes in Malaysia, and he believed that more would like to be able to take up that opportunity.
The new route is operated by Oman Air’s recently introduced Airbus A330 aircraft.
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