According to Malaysian Tourism Minister Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz, there has been a fall in the number of Singaporean tourists who visit Malaysia. With the decrease, Malaysia now has to think up of new ways to attract Singaporeans to Malaysia again, he says.

In his speech at the opening of the Travel Malaysia Fair on Friday, Mr Nazri revealed that the number of Singaporeans visiting Malaysia fell by 8.6% during the 1st 3 months of the year. The overall number for the whole year is expected to see a similar decline.

Mr Nazri says that the fall could be because of the haze, which has kept many Singaporeans indoors.

“(One) reason probably is because of the haze we’ve been experiencing from the last 4 to 5 months,” said Mr Nazri. “People have been staying indoors. Not only Singaporeans are affected but Malaysians are also affected.”

Another possible reason, said Mr Nazri, was fatigue from the Visit Malaysia 2014 campaign, which saw a bumper crop of tourist arrivals. A total of 13.9 million Singapore tourists visited Malaysia last year, making it Malaysia’s top market for tourist arrivals.

Analysts point out that the recent tax hikes for vehicles and the confusing requirements to register vehicle details for entry into Malaysia, along with recent political unrest, may have contributed to the decline.

However, Mr Nazri says he is confident that tourism numbers will pick up. For example, the weakening of the ringgit could be good as it may help to draw more visitors to the country, he said.

The Malaysian tourism ministry will be focusing its efforts on positioning Ipoh and Perak as preferred travel destinations for Singaporeans, with ecotourism packages and tours for durian lovers, Mr Nazri said.

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