Malaysian Tourism Minister stands by belief that weak ringgit is good for tourism

Malaysian Minister for Tourism and Culture Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz.
Malaysian Minister for Tourism and Culture Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz.PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - As the ringgit falls to its lowest value in 17 years, Malaysian Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz has maintained his belief that it is still beneficial to the country's tourism industry.

He said it was good for the industry as Malaysia becomes a "very affordable" destination for foreigners. "On top of that, Malaysians will find it expensive to travel overseas so they will spend their money at home and it is good for domestic tourism," he told The Star Online via a text message.

Nazri, who is currently on a work trip to Paris, France said a weaker currency could boost Malaysia's exports, citing an example where China resisted US' call to float their yuan currency.

"The US feels the yuan is too low against the US dollar, which they cannot compete with China's exports," he said.

On June 10, Nazri had drawn flak for saying that ringgit's shrinking value would be a boost to domestic tourism when the currency hovered around 3.7000 against the US dollar.

Aware of the people's sentiments on his remark, he shot back by saying that his stand as a minister was "right".

"People are mad with my take because they are literally mad. But I am right from my portfolio's point of view," he said.

On Friday, the ringgit weakened to 3.9235 against the US dollar from the previous close of 3.9125.

This is the lowest rate since Sept 2, 1998, a day before the government pegged the ringgit at 3.8000.

Malaysia lifted the peg in 2005.