Tourism roadshows on hold out of respect for families of MH370 passengers

Roadshows and activities overseas to attract more tourists in conjunction with Visit Malaysia Year 2014 will be temporarily halted as there is no closure yet on the fate of the missing MH370 plane.

Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz said it had decided to halt the activities out of respect for the families of the passengers.

"This is a sensitive issue as there is no closure on MH370 yet.

"So, it is hard to have activities and roadshows to attract foreign tourists.

"The ministry has decided not to intensify our efforts to attract tourists, especially from China (at the moment)," said Nazri in his reply to points raised during debate on the royal address.

The incident, admitted Nazri, had affected the number of tourists coming into the country, especially those from China.

Datuk Mahfuz Omar (PAS-Pokok Sena) then urged the ministry to look at the incident from a positive point of view, pointing out the demonstrations in Bangkok which had not affected its tourism.

To this, Nazri said the situation in Thailand was different as the demonstrations were due to the actions of their own people.

"But the MH370 incident is unfortunate. Till today, we do not know where the plane is and if we were to ignore this situation and continue with the roadshows, the world will say we do not care about the fate of the families and those on board the plane," he said.

China, he pointed out, was the fourth largest country contributing to tourist arrivals in the country and if Malaysia were to go ahead with its roadshows and activities, these would be "purely insensitive".

"Half of the passengers on board MH370 are from China. Even today, we can see how, while Malaysian families are calm, the reaction of families from China, is very different," said Nazri, adding that they were very emotional.

Communication and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek said there were 18 complaints received on the spread of allegations and inaccurate information about the missing plane on the Internet and social media.

However, he said the commission was putting on hold its investigation into the complaints for the time being as the focus remained on locating the plane.

On another matter, Ahmad Shabery said it was inaccurate to solely blame the Government for Malaysia slipping in its press freedom ranking from 147th last year to 145th out of the 180 countries surveyed by Paris-based "Reporters With Borders".

The survey, he said, was only based on the perception of press freedom of a particular country and did not necessary relate to its government.