THE ongoing Kuala Lumpur SEA Games is bringing together ardent sports fans from around the region keen to cheer on their national athletes.
Malaysia’s Tourism Ministry projected 700,000 inbound visitors from neighboring countries in conjunction with the Games.
Tourism and Culture Minister Nazri Aziz told reporters: “We are positive about this as SEA Games is an event that can attract many foreign tourists to the country, and also because of Malaysia’s location, which is at the center, making it easier for them to come either by land, sea or air.”
TTG Asia reported the Games have also helped to drive traffic into the capital city and surrounding destinations, especially those from Indonesia and Philippines.
Dayangti Transport & Tours operations manager S. Jayakumar told the publication, “We are getting bookings from family members and supporters of foreign athletes. There are also requests for sightseeing tours around the city, Resorts World Genting, and visits to Sunway Lagoon in Selangor.”
Hotels too are enjoying greater occupancy numbers, with some even implementing additional security measures during the course of the Games.
For instance, Eastin Hotel has installed scanners at entrances and exits that are manned by police personnel.
Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) chief executive office Yap Lip Seng said: “Big sporting events like this are a boon to everyone. And this is much appreciated as this year has been a tough one for the industry.”
Many Malaysian hotel owners have been up in arms about a new tourism tax to be implemented soon – a flat rate of RM10 (US$2.34) per room per night.
According to Nazri, the collected tax – which could amount to RM654.62 million (US$147.47 million) if the overall occupancy rate for the 11 million “room nights” in the country is 60 percent – will be used to develop the country’s tourism industry.