Malaysians not really excited about Saudi Arabia as holiday destination
Saudi Arabia plans to begin issuing tourist visas later this year as the kingdom opens to leisure tourism to attract 30 million international visitors by 2030 from the current 18 million mainly business travellers and pilgrims. Last year, around 300,000 Malaysians arrived in Saudi Arabia to perform either the haj or umrah.
Malaysia and Saudi Arabia have enjoyed “good cooperation in the field of tourism”, to the point that the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding in 2016 to “enhance cooperation in the tourism sector through encouragement of joint promotional activities, collaboration in research and development, as well as joint training,” the Malaysian Ministry of Tourism and Culture told Salaam Gateway in a statement.
Syed Mohd Razif bin Syed Yasin, chief executive of Sri Sutra travel agency in Kuala Lumpur, said the lure of Saudi Arabia as a destination will appeal to Malaysian tourists as many will have had their interest piqued after having visited the country for religious rites.
“Saudi Arabia is rich in historic civilisation, and I’m sure [Malaysians] would like to experience this for themselves,” he added. Other industry players have also been hailing the new visa, including the executive dean of Taylor University’s Faculty of Hospitality, Food & Leisure Management, who called the scheme “brilliant”.
Though industry experts are excited about Saudi’s potential for outbound Malaysian tourists, it is harder to find Malaysians themselves who are sufficiently enthused to apply for a tourist visa.
Kuala Lumpur lawyer Mohamed Mohidin Hashim told Salaam Gateway: “Is there much to see in Saudi? I am quite ignorant as to the attraction it provides. It is entrenched in us that Saudi is a place of worship, except maybe now they will have resorts surrounding the oases. Personally, I would not go as a tourist.”
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