Wooing tourists in 2020

IT'S a hot, savoury bowl of noodles that come in many variations.

From the hearty Sarawak laksa to the creamy laksa Johor and tangy asam laksa, we Malaysians love the spicy dish in all its mouth-watering versions.

But it's the rich aroma of the laksa utara, famous in northern states like Kedah and Perlis, that trumps them all for Datuk Mohamaddin Ketapi.

"We have beautiful laksa. But among all, personally, laksa utara is the best for me," said the Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister with a smile.

"You can't get that anywhere else," adds Mohamaddin, who is from Lahad Datu, Sabah.

And it's our tantalising local food, he says, that will be one of our strengths in drawing foreign tourists here for the Visit Malaysia 2020 (VM2020) campaign.

That, and our other unique charms too - our country's beautiful natural attractions and colourful, diverse culture. With 2020 less than two months away, the ministry has set its sights on getting 30 million tourists to throng our country, with the aim of earning RMlOObil in tourist receipts.

"It's a time when the exchange rate is very favourable for foreigners to come here and shop.

"And Malaysia is definitely worth the money," adds the Silam MP. Malaysia will also promote its natural gems like the sky mirror in Kuala Selangor - a sandbank that reflects the sky, the majestic Mount Kinabalu and the green Danum Valley forest in Sabah, he says.

"Malaysia is blessed with all these gifts. This is why I am confident and optimistic that we will be able to achieve our targets for VM2020," he says.

"All we need to do is promote ourselves more and get people to know what we have."

Mohamaddin spoke to SundayStar about VM2020, possible challenges like "zero-dollar tourists" and other matters.