Malaysia was more than prepared to host the Pacific Asia
Travel Association (PATA) Travel Mart 2005 at the newly established Kuala
Lumpur Convention Center (KLCC) during September 27-30. In the shadow and
vicinity of the renowned 452m high Petronas Twin Towers in the heart of the
garden city of Kuala Lumpur, a total of 375 global buyers from 54 countries
met 704 sellers from 37 countries.
Mai residents will see even more of AirAsia after the direct daily flight
from Chiang Mai to Kuala Lumpur begins on October 20.
As I was invited by the most elegant Shangri-La Hotel,
one of the 10 official hotels to accommodate the delegates and members of
the press, I flew into Kuala Lumpur from Chiang Mai, (still via Bangkok) by
courtesy of Air Asia, which will be opening a direct flight Chiang Mai-Kuala
Lumpur later this month.
During the Opening and Welcome Dinner Reception, Dr. Leo
Michael Toyad, Malaysia’s Minister of Tourism, presented the “Colors of
Malaysia” as a showcase of the country’s fashion and culture.
Twin Tower in the center of KL.
Fantastic dances were performed by the peoples of
Malaysia, who predominantly consist of Malays (50 percent), Chinese (30
percent) and Indians (20 percent), including the indigenous groups of the
Western Peninsula as well as Sabah and Sarawak in Eastern Malaysia on the
island of Borneo.
The official language of Malaysia is Bahasa Melayu,
however English is widely spoken. Islam is the official religion, but the
other world religions are freely practiced. Interesting to note is that the
Federation of Malaysia is ruled by a king, who is chosen from the nine
sultans of the country in five years terms. 1.8 million out of the
country’s 23 million people live in the capital Kuala Lumpur.
On September 28, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand
and India gave press conferences to update the representatives of the media.
Cambodia singled out four areas of tourism development, including its
jungle-clad northeastern provinces, the coral reefs in the south, Phnom Penh
as the new Paris of the East, and Siem Reap with the ruins of Angkor and the
Malaysia will receive 16 million visitors in 2005 to
reach the record 20 million breaking point in 2008 by banking on niche
markets, such as Eco, Educational, Sports and Health Tourism. While
Indonesia keeps the official slogan “Ultimate in Diversity” to promote
its marine world of 18,000 islands, Thailand switches to “Dream of
the futuristic city of the 21st
Phornsiri Manoharn, TAT Deputy Governor for International
Marketing, announced the official opening of the new Suvarnabhumi
International Airport in July 2006 and the expansion of Krabi Airport. For
2005, there is still the target of 13.38 million visitors with the help of
the markets of China, India, Middle East and Russia. For December 26, 2005 a
humble Tsunami Memorial Day will be staged in Phuket.
India’s “Incredible India” campaign showed a robust
24 percent growth in tourism for 2004 and is on the way to successfully
export its several millennium old “mind, body and soul concept”, where
each guest is treated as “god” to indulge in self-discovery and
self-fulfillment. The center of “Ayurveda” is still located in Kerala.
left to right) Palace of the Sultan of Selangor, the Putra Mosque and the
building of the office of the Prime Minister of Malaysia.
The final days of the mart were filled in with the press
briefings of Brunei, Hong Kong, Nepal, Maldives and Macao, while a half-day
post-mart tour led to the new federal administrative town of Putrajaya.
There the participating delegates marveled at the latest state of the art
International Convention Center and enjoyed a leisurely boat cruise to see
the landmarks of the majestic Putra Mosque, the Prime Minister’s Office
and some of the relocated ministries. Putrajaya has what is believed to be
the largest man-made freshwater wetlands in the tropics.
Back in Kuala Lumpur, an organized transfer from the official hotels to
the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) was arranged, which is one
hour away. This super-modern airport is in direct competition with the
international airports in Singapore and Thailand, and visitors can
conveniently reach any other destinations in Malaysia and beyond. Also, it
is from there that AirAsia will start a direct daily flight to Chiang Mai on
October 20, 2005. The next PATA Travel Mart will be held in Hong Kong on
September 12-15, 2006.