Minister to take aggressive measures
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's stringent measures in combating the H1N1 flu has created fear among foreign visitors.
This has caused them to stay away from visiting the country for the time being.
Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Ng Yen Yen, as well as various players in the tourism industry are worried that should the trend continue it would affect the sector.
It did not help, she said, when the media over-dramatised in their reports about the issue.
"I am not saying that the media should hide the facts, but give balanced reporting, such as the fact that this illness is not as viral as SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome)," she said after chairing a crisis management committee meeting yesterday at the ministry's office here.
About 50 representatives were present including those from the ministry, Malaysia Airlines, AirAsia, Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents, Malaysian Association of Hotels, Malaysian Association of Hotel Owners and Malaysian Budget Hotel Association.
Ng said tour agents in Taiwan, Seoul and Hong Kong had suffered cancellations of bookings of up to 90 per cent for the past two weeks.
But there was still an increase in the number of tourists from immediate neighbouring countries including Singapore and Indonesia because they knew the actual situation about H1N1 in Malaysia which was very well managed, she said.
MAS chief executive officer Datuk Seri Idris Jala said one had to restrain oneself from being an alarmist when dealing with H1N1.
"We are taking matters a bit more robustly," he said.
"More deaths arise from dengue fever," he said.
The death ratio for SARS, he said was higher at 1 to 12 compared with H1N1 at 1 to 220.
Idris added that one should follow World Health Organisation guidelines and advisories closely as the industry, he said, was very concerned about the additional measures taken.
"With the H1N1, volatile oil prices and global recession, the airline industry is facing the worst situation since World War 2."
Ng also said the ministry would monitor the situation on a daily basis by keeping tabs on the number of arrivals, cancellations, among others.
She would also take up a more aggressive approach by going abroad to give a true picture about Malaysia.
With the current influenza and global recession, the ministry is making a slight adjustment in its projection of tourist arrivals this year by about 10 per cent lower.
Audio Technician/Project Co-Ordinator
Pesaka Pemerindang Event Management(PPEvenTM)