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Private sector can participate more in developing tourism products

The private sector has been urged to actively participate in the efforts taken by the government to…

The private sector has been urged to actively participate in the efforts taken by the government to develop the country`s tourism products.

Through the private sector, we would be able to speed up the tourism attractions (of the country) and not leave everything to the government`s undertaking, Minister of Culture, Arts and Tourism Datuk Paduka Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir said.

These tourism products include theme parks, tourism complexes, private museums, he told reporters after chairing this year`s first National Tourism Development Committee Meeting here Monday.

He said that it would be difficult for the government to carry out all the projects as the cost involved would be high, and the time required for their development would be long, not to mention the problem of management, marketing and operations.

There would be no more new projects until the next economic plan, he said.

With this in view, the government is encouraging more participation from the private sector even if it understands that such projects may involve high risks and longer periods for returns, he said.

On the other hand, he also urged the state governments and local councils to make it smoother for those in the private sector carrying out such tourism related projects.

On the government`s efforts, he said focus would be given to campaigns this year as a strategy to record a second leap in the number of tourist arrivals.

He said the first leap was when the government recorded a significant rise in the number of tourist arrivals during a three-and-a-half-year period from 5.5 million people in 1998 to 13.3 million people in 2002.

He hoped that the second leap would be achieved during 2005/2006 with a target of more than 15 million tourists.

In 2003, due to the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome outbreak and the US-led Iraq war, tourist arrivals was reduced by 20 percent to 10.5 million, he said.

The minister expressed hope that this year`s tourist arrivals will rise back to the same level the country saw in 2002. (BERNAMA)

Theodore Koumelis
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