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Saturday, March 22, 2008

Terengganu all out to woo 3.5m tourists this year

Tourist Attraction: Perhentian Island off the coast of Kuala Besut, Terengganu, boasts some of the best dive sites in Peninsular Malaysia

TERENGGANU is mounting an aggressive drive to gear up its tourism industry. Boosted by East Coast Economic Region (ECER) tourism initiatives, the state aims to target 3.5 million tourists under its Visit Terengganu Year (VTY 2008) campaign.

According to Tengku Mohd Arifin Tengku A. Rahman, head of Terengganu's secretariat for VTY 2008, the 3.5 million target is an increase from 2.8 million last year which contributed RM1.47 billion to the state's economy, up from RM1.28 billion in 2005.

To woo visitors in VTY 2008, Terengganu has lined up 25 major events, including the Monsoon Cup Yacht Racing.

"We are also pitching for our own Federation of Equestrian International horse-racing event," Mohd Arifin added in a statement.

At the same time, Terengganu is giving more emphasis to its "Crystal Mosque". Made of crystal shine glass with steel foundation, the Crystal Mosque is a part of the RM250 million Islamic Civilisation Park situated on a 23ha site.

Malaysia Association of Hotels chairman Raja Kamarul Bahrin Shah Raja Ahmad said the uniqueness in Terengganu tourism is that there is consciousness to conserve nature, despite shooting for growth.

He said the state's proactive approach to take control of development, conservation and perpetuation of handicraft as well as the environment, will create something different for Terengganu.

"The West Coast is slowly losing its culture and heritage to pave the way for development without much proper control and guidelines. I feel that Terengganu should maintain what they have done now and this should be Terengganu's trademark for the near future," he added.

To serve tourist growth, the Sultan Mahmud Airport which is located 15km from the town, will also be upgraded to an international aviation hub under ECER.

Meanwhile, chairman of the Terengganu chapter of Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) Wan Supian Wan Ishak said the state government had encouraged further developments of hotels and resorts which will in turn result in substantial increase in tourist volume from 2008 onwards.

By New Straits Times

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