Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen flayed the opposition today for nitpicking her ministry's bloated travel bills, pointing out that her promotion strategies had successfully attracted more tourist arrivals.
When approached in Parliament this morning, the minister appeared agitated when told of PKR MP Chua Tian Chang's allegation that she had spent more to travel but less to promote the country abroad.
He had even accused her of being more of a tourist than a tourism minister due to her extensive travels.
In quick response, Ng immediately opened her handbag, whipped out her Apple iPad to show reporters statistical proof of how her travels abroad and drop in promotional expenditure had helped revitalise the country's tourism industry.
She charged at Chua for being a “generalist” and called herself a “specialist” in the industry, pointing out that her promotion work abroad had attracted more than 23 million tourists last year.
“You want to talk to a specialist, you talk to me,” she said, looking upset.She explained that she had lent a more personal touch to her tourism promotion methods by visiting the various countries herself to attract more tourists.“I decided that I am going to go down myself more often. I speak to tour operators, the media and the authorities to convince them that Malaysia is a good country to visit.“The impact of a minister's visit is much more than just a general promotion... it means you know your job,” she said.
Dr Ng explained that at present, the ministry was moving to spend less for promotions for every tourist who arrived in the country.“Last year, for every tourist that came in the promotion money we spent was RM14 [each person] and the spending of every tourist was RM2,600.“In 2008, we spent RM16 per tourist. In 2007, we spent RM18 and in 2006, we spent RM20,” she said.She added that last year's figures were the lowest as she had personally decided to go straight to the countries to address the concerns of tourists.
“We tell them do not be afraid of H1N1, come to Malaysia. We tell them Thailand may have political problems but we have no problem.“The words of a minister are important so they (the opposition) can say anything they want, I only refer to the figures,” she said.Ng also said that in 2008, the promotion budget for her ministry, which was at the time under her predecessor Datuk Seri Azalina Othman, was RM358 million.Tourist arrivals for the year, she noted, was 22 million with a total of RM49.56 billion spent in the country.
“Last year, our promotion budget was RM337 million but tourist arrivals rose to 23.65 million. Total amount spent here was RM53.4 billion.“But we only spent RM14 for promotions for each tourist while in 2008, we spent RM16,” she said.
Ng concluded that this showed that her strategies were working.“The figures speak for itself. You have to know your strategies. If your general strategies do not work, change it.“I do not speak to non-specialists,” she said.
When pushed further to explain allegations by Chua of certain trips where the ministry's delegation had spent tens of thousands of ringgit for each person, Ng brushed off the questions angrily.Making reference to her trip in August to Australia and New Zealand, she explained that it was because of her tight schedule that her travel bill had ballooned.
“Excuse me, excuse me, you look. I travelled to six cities. You know how much it costs for the fare? But I do not want to go to that extent.“All is clear and transparent. These [figures] are audited,” she said.
The opposition had accused Dr Ng of overspending during her trip where she had spent a total of RM244,720 for a 10-day trip with a delegation of three ministry officials, three agencies, two hotel operators and three state government representatives.“I spent one day in one city. If I wanted to enjoy life, I would have at least spent two days. You know, for example, if you go to New Zealand and spend one night, it is more expensive than if you spent four nights.“But I am focused on my work and in every city I spent only one day,” she said.
Dr.Ng concluded that this was the “last time” she would answer questions on the issue.- Malaysian Insider