Nazri: Free-falling ringgit helping tourism recover from MH370 incident

Tourism minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz saw the depreciating ringgit as beneficial to the country by making Malaysia more attractive to Chinese tourists. — File pic
Tourism minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz saw the depreciating ringgit as beneficial to the country by making Malaysia more attractive to Chinese tourists. — File pic

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KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 11 — The depreciating ringgit is aiding the recovery of Malaysia’s tourism industry that is still reeling from the effects of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, the tourism and culture minister said today.

Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz said that while the MH370 incident has resulted in fewer arrivals of Chinese nationals, the low ringgit value has made Malaysia an attractive destination for other tourists.

“Of course, that’s the only way to bring the money back up,” he said when asked if the sliding ringgit value has benefitted Malaysia’s tourism industry.

“If tourists come, they cannot go to the hotel and pay in euros; they have to buy the ringgit. There is demand,” he explained at the sidelines of the Declaration of National Heritage at the National Museum today.

He noted that tourists from China are still reluctant to visit Malaysia because of the disappearance of MH370, in which most passengers were Chinese nationals, adding that this will continue until the tragedy was put to rest.

“That’s why we need to give them preferential treatment, like no need to get visa to come to Malaysia because it is still affecting us for as long as MH370 is not found, it’s still a problem,” he said.

He also noted that the sliding ringgit can also boost domestic tourism.

“When our money is week do you go to London? You go to Port Dickson or Penang...

“That’s why I say those people are mad, literally mad to say that,” he said when a reporter asked if the economic downturn has resulted in lower tourist arrivals.

The ringgit retreated 0.8 per cent for a fifth day of losses today, ending at RM3.95 against dollar. It briefly dipped below RM3.96 and is projected to hit RM4.00.

According to a Bloomberg report, the ringgit dropped 1.4 per cent to RM6.18 versus the British pound and earlier fell to RM6.20, the weakest since 2008.

It also reached a record low of RM2.85 to the Singapore dollar.

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