The Egypt Sales Mission
YB DATO’ SRI AZALINA DATO’ OTHMAN SAID
MINISTER OF TOURISM MALAYSIA
AT THE MALAYSIA NIGHT DINNER IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE EGYPT SALES MISSION
1. H.E. DATO ZAINAL ABIDIN ABDUL KADIR
Malaysian Ambassador to Egypt
Members of the International Travel Trade Fraternity
Delegation Members from Malaysia
Members of the Media
Ladies and Gentlemen
Assalamualaikum and a good evening.
On behalf of the Government and the People of Malaysia, it gives me great pleasure in extending a warm ‘Selamat Datang’, or Welcome, to everyone here.
To all of you, thank you for accepting our invitation to dinner this evening.
When I informed my family, friends and colleagues that I would be travelling to Egypt this week, most had the same instantaneous reaction; which was their enthusiasm for the place, people and culture was positively infectious. A friend insisted on showing me photos of her once-in-a-lifetime trip to the ‘Valley of the Kings’ for her second honeymoon while another could not stop gushing about the thrill of exploring ‘souks’ for that one-of-a-kind souvenir. A third friend even sent me a copy of a travel book on the card game, ‘tarneeb’, which she had just finished – I understand this game to be something of a national obsession in Egypt, right?
These encounters got me thinking: what are the major plus points that attract international travellers to Malaysia? Undoubtedly, many things come to mind. Our multi-cultural heritage. Unique natural wonders. Delicious food. Colourful festivals. World-class events. Hospitality services of an international standard. Excellent MICE capabilities. And of course, the most important consideration of all – endless shopping possibilities for every budget! Indeed, these are but some of the highlights that make Malaysia a refreshing, exciting and multi-faceted destination for all.
Recently, Malaysia has been able to add both medical tourism and education tourism to this ever-growing list of “attractions”. The buzz surrounding the quality and the affordability of medical services offered has been growing for some time now. In fact, I am proud to say that Malaysia was recently named among the world’s Top 5 medical tourism destinations.
Due to the favourable foreign exchange (USD1 = RM3.40), it makes sense for many foreign patients to seek medical treatment in Malaysia. Furthermore, the country’s modern infrastructure, state-of-the-art facilities and stability – be it political, social or economic – have also proven to be important determining factors. The figures speak for themselves. To date, the number of foreigners seeking healthcare services in the country has grown from over 75,000 patients in 2001 to over 300,000 patients against RM203.66 million (USD58.18 million) in receipts. The Association of Private Hospitals Malaysia projects that the number of foreigners seeking medical services and procedures in Malaysia will continue to grow at a rate of 30 percent a year until 2010.
Similarly, Malaysia is poised to become a centre of research and educational excellence. To date, the country has over 600 reputable private colleges, 13 private universities and a university college. These include excellent home grown institutions with numerous foreign affiliations as well as a number of branch campuses of distinguished foreign universities. It is also worth nothing that a qualification from these institutions ranks on par with that received at home campuses. At present, there are more than 65,000 foreign students from over 100 countries seeking to further their education in Malaysia. Many are attracted by the relative low cost of living yet high quality of life. This is reinforced by easy accessibility to the latest, state-of-the-art educational aids and technology required for academic excellence.
The Sales Mission delegation that I am leading is made up of senior officials from Tourism Malaysia, the National Tourism Organisation, Malaysia Airlines, travel agencies, hotels and resorts, and tourist attractions, as well as a cultural troupe that will entertain you later. I hope that travel agents and Buyers from Egypt will take this opportunity to meet with our delegation members and Sellers from Malaysia to obtain first-hand information about developing even more interesting travel packages to Malaysia – for I truly believe that we have something to offer everyone. If I did not have the chance to do so earlier, I look forward to personally meeting each and every one of you to exchange views, bounce ideas and establish contacts for mutual benefit.
Before I conclude, I would like to thank all the travel agents for their tireless enthusiasm in promoting travel packages to Malaysia. I hope you will continue to support us in promoting Malaysia as the ideal one-stop destination. I look forward to welcoming both you and your families to Malaysia. Your kind presence this evening clearly demonstrates an openness to reinforce bilateral relations and support tourism development between our two nations.
But for the rest of the evening, I would like everyone to do nothing but sit back, relax and enjoy yourselves as we offer you a glimpse of Malaysia.