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GEORGE TOWN, Sept 9 (Bernama) — Penang has recorded a 40 per cent increase in the number of international tourist arrivals between January and June this year.
There were 405,932 tourists up till June, as compared to 244,146 in the same period last year.
Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said she was happy to note the increase in foreign tourists flocking to Penang as it reflected the island’s good heritage, history, gardens, beaches and food.
Of the tourist arrivals, she said Indonesians topped the list at over 92,000, followed by Singaporeans (51,392), China (16,000), Australia, Japan, Latin America and India (12,000 each), United States (10,000) and Middle East countries (1,360).
“The federal government played a key role to attract more tourists to the state, such as allocating about RM51 million under the Budget 2010, for development projects such as the Penang Hill funicular train and Botanical Gardens,” Dr Ng told reporters here Thursday.
The minister, who is on a working visit to the state’s Contemporary Arts Gallery, said another factor contributing to the increase in international tourist arrivals could be the number of direct flights offered by various airlines.
Noting a poor response from Middle East tourists, Dr Ng said her ministry would hold discussions with the Emirates airlines to increase the number of direct flights.
On art, she said it had been identified as a new product to boost the country’s tourism sector, with events such as art auction among activities on the cards.
She said, after the three-month 1Malaysia Contemporary Arts Tourism Festival ended next month, her ministry would work with a Penang-based artist to develop a Penang Art Tourism trail featuring the state art gallery in a booklet for distribution to tourists.
“We hope the booklet serves as directory for tourists who are keen in art. Apart from that, we will also be organising a seminar themed, ‘Penang as a Sustainable International Hub for Contemporary Art Tourism’, on Sept 29,” she said.
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