China envoy assures current tourism situation only temporary

PETALING JAYA - Chinese tourists will return to Malaysia once the MH370 crisis and the kidnapping of one of its nationals in Sabah have been resolved, said Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz.

This assurance, said Mohamed Nazri, was given to him by Chinese Ambassador to Malaysia Dr Huang Huikang during a meeting with 15 MPs yesterday.

He said the envoy had stressed that the current situation was only temporary, adding that so far, 30,000 Chinese nationals had cancelled their trip to Malaysia.

"He (Dr Huang) has told us that he will do his best to bring back tourists from China when the time is right," Mohamed Nazri told reporters after launching the Warnarasa Malaysia, A Food Galore, to promote local cuisine, handicraft and cultural products organised by The Royale Chulan Damansara hotel here yesterday.

He had earlier led a delegation of MPs to pay a courtesy call on Dr Huang as an expression of solidarity with China's citizens during this difficult period due to the incidents.

Mohamed Nazri said Dr Huang also expressed his amazement over Malaysia's natural beauty, stunning landscape, diverse cultures and its hospitable people from his travels to places like Penang, Malacca and Ipoh.

"He told us that he now understands why the Chinese love to visit Malaysia," he said.

Mohamed Nazri said he was confident that the country still had the strength to attract Chinese tourists, who form Malaysia's third largest market after the Singaporeans and Indonesians.

According to the ministry's statistics, Malaysia received almost 1.8 million Chinese tourists last year, making up 7 per cent of total ­arrivals.