NUSAJAYA, Malaysia - Johor is targeting a 20 per cent increase in tourist arrivals for Visit Malaysia Year 2014, and has identified Indonesia as one of the main contributors in this respect.
State trade and tourism executive councillor Datuk Tee Siew Kiong said that according to the Immigration Department, Johor recorded 2.16 million tourist arrivals last year.
He also pointed out that various airlines had shown interest in flying into Johor Baru.
"Citilink Airlines, the low-cost subsidiary of Garuda Airlines, will be the seventh airline to make Johor as one of their first international destinations.
"The state government welcomes the decision made by the airlines as it will certainly help tourist arrivals, in particular from Indonesia," he said during a press conference during Citilink Airlines' maiden flight here yesterday.
Tee added that the arrival of Citilink Airlines into Johor was a win-win situation for both Malaysia and Indonesia, and urged local tourism industry players to have strategic partnerships with their Indonesian counterparts.
"The budget carrier operates in 20 major cities in Indonesia with a strength of 22 Airbus-320 planes, and are able to cater to 600,000 passengers a month," he said.
"There are plans, through the state tourism department with flight companies, to have direct flights between Johor and major Indonesian cities such as Bandung, Jakarta and Bali," Tee added.
Meanwhile, Citilink Airlines chief executive officer and president Arif Wibowo said that the company was looking forward to making the state its new destination.
He added that Johor had developed into an attractive market and had world-class attractions that were able to draw tourists.
"Citilink Airlines will provide seven flights a week from Surabaya, which is the second largest city in Indonesia, to Johor Baru.
"Besides the usual tourists or businessmen, we also targeting about 300,000 Indonesian nationals working here as our customers," he said.