Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen Wednesday stressed that the ministry's tourism promotion missions abroad were part of efforts to draw more tourists to Malaysia, as well as to explore new markets.
She said the missions had been successful in creating greater awareness in foreign countries on the many tourism attractions and products Malaysia had to offer to tourists.
"For example, the mission to seven main cities in New Zealand and Australia including Auckland, Sydney and Melbourne. Who would want to cover seven cities in 11 days. It was no holiday but crazy, hard work," she said in winding up the debate on the Supply Bill 2011 at the committee level for her ministry in the Dewan Rakyat Wednesday.
Dr Ng said among the success from the ministry's overseas missions was that Malaysia was ranked the 9th most visited tourist destination in the world last year.
She said the tourism missions to the world's major cities also showed the government's seriousness in reaching the target of 38 million tourist arrivals and earning RM168 billion in tourism revenue by 2020.
Some lawmakers including Azmin Ali (PKR-Gombak), Tian Chua (PKR-Batu) and Wee Choo Keong (Independent-Wangsa Maju) who frequently interjected Dr Ng during her speech also had heated exchange of words with her over their dissatisfaction with some of her replies to the questions or points raised.
They had drawn Dr Ng's attention to the need for every effort made by the government in boosting tourism, to contribute to the country's economy and not be a waste.
On the building of the Malaysia Pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo 2010, which was raised by Wee, Dr Ng defended the ministry's decision, saying the cost was not more than RM20 million as claimed and that it was not a waste as it attracted some 6.36 million visitors from all over the world.
Dr Ng also said that during her tourism missions abroad, she had met about 230 media representatives and countered any negative perception they had about Malaysia.