Visitors to Malaysia on the rise and more to come this year: Official

Kuala Lumpur is seventh in a list of the world's most visited cities in 2016. PHOTO: EPA

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Kuala Lumpur has proven to be a firm favourite for tourists as the city welcomed more than 12 million international visitors last year.

The World Economic Forum placed the metropolitan seventh in a list of the world's most visited cities in 2016.

Kuala Lumpur even edged out popular Asian destinations such as Hong Kong, Seoul and Tokyo, which took the 11th, 10th and ninth spots respectively. The only two other South-aast Asian cities on the list are Bangkok, which took top place, and Singapore, at sixth place.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan shared an image about Kuala Lumpur's ranking on Instagram.

Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) inbound vice-president Datuk Tan Kok Liang commended Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) for its dedication to making the city "more liveable".

He said the city's food havens, tourist spots and mega sales seasons remained the biggest pull factors for tourists.

"Definitely for 2017, the tourism industry not only in Kuala Lumpur, but in the whole of Malaysia will perform much better than last year.

"Year 2016 was more of a recovery process and we managed to consolidate our position," he said, referring to a dip in the industry that started in 2014 after Flight MH370 disappeared.

Tan added that the Government's visa exemption for countries such as China helped draw more visitors.

MATTA ground transportation vice-president S. Jayakumar said 2017 was expected to be a busy year for the industry as it geared up to cater to more tourists.

"An increase of between 8 per cent and 10 per cent is expected this year," he said.

"In 2014, we saw a drop and in 2015, business began to slowly pick up," said Jayakumar.

The revamps at Malaysia Airlines Bhd also helped the tourism industry get out of the slump, he added.

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