China promo activities to resume when MH370 case reaches closure: Tourism minister

KUALA LUMPUR - The Tourism Ministry will only resume promotional activities in China when there is closure to the MH370 tragedy, says Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz.

"We have to wait for the right time. For the moment, I am not even thinking or wanting to talk about tourists from China," he said.

The Government, he added, recognised the sensitivities felt by China over the missing plane, which had since adversely affected tourism to Malaysia.

Nazri was speaking after witnessing Malaysian bhangra artistes Manjit and Sukhjit Singh Gill's third entry into the Malaysia Book of Records for being the first Malaysians to perform in Wembley stadium.

Nazri pointed out there were about 30,000 cancellations from China tourists this year. "There are no bookings for 2015," he added.

More than 1.6 million Chinese tourists visited Malaysia in 2013, making them the third largest group to do so after Singapore and Indonesia.

"They have to express their anger somewhere but that's okay," said Nazri. "Malaysia and Malaysians are big enough to accept this during this difficult time".

Nazri pointed out that tourist arrivals in the first two months of the year was good.

"There were 2.4 million tourist arrivals in Malaysia in January, which is an increase of 18 per cent from the same time last year," he said.

"There was also a 6 per cent to 8 per cent increase in February."

The ministry had postponed all promotions for the Visit Malaysia Year 2014 campaign as a mark of respect after MH370 disappeared from the radar on March 8.

Malaysia had earlier targeted 28.8 million tourist arrivals this year.

At the Malaysian Book of Records ceremony, Manjit and Sukhjit, who make up the group Goldkartz, were honoured for performing at Wembley before a 30,000-strong crowd during the UK Asian Music Awards.

Nazri also proposed that there be a Sikh festival to showcase the community's culture, dance and songs included in the Tourism Ministry's annual calendar.

Malaysia National Sikhs MoveĀ­ment has been tasked with organising and holding the festival this year ahead of the 2015 Malaysia Year of Festival.