Malaysia Voted Best Tourist Destination Of 2006 In Magazine Poll

NEW YORK, Jan 26 (Bernama) — In what has come as a surprise to many in the US travel and tourism trade, Malaysia was voted the world’s best tourism destination for 2006 by a prestigious US travel magazine.

This was the result of a poll conducted by Global Traveler magazine, a monthly published in Pennsylvania.

The publication describes itself as a business travel magazine that “takes into account the sophisticated lifestyle interests of today’s executive travelers”. The magazine claims to have a paid circulation of 60,055.

The extensive poll, the third such annual survey conducted by Global Traveler magazine amongst its readers between Feb 1, 2006 and Aug 31, 2006, addressed open-ended questions for the best in 42 categories.

A total of 13,653 completed questionnaires were received by the magazine from its readers.

The questionnaires, stretching to a total of six pages, were made available as an insert in the subscriber copies of the magazine and online at the Global Traveler magazine’s website.

A spokesperson of FXExpress, which publishes the magazine, told Bernama that only those questions where more than 50 per cent of the questions werecompleted were counted; those answering fewer than 50 per cent were rejected.

Responses were also screened to ensure that there was no duplication. Members of the travel industry and employees of FXExpress publications were not allowed to participate.

Survey respondents spent a mean number of 61 nights last year on international business trips and 76 nights on domestic business trips.

They took an average of 18 international flights and 21 domestic flights per person during that period. Of all respondents, 76 per cent were male and 24 per cent were female, and average age was 45.

An elated Azizan Noordin, director (advertising) at the Tourism Malaysia headquarters in Kuala Lumpur, arrived here to receive the award which was given at the Jumeira Essex House in New York in the presence of a large gathering of airline representatives, tour and travel operators, tourism consultants and the media.

“Naturally, Tourism Malaysia is proud to receive the award which also confirms that our pre-publicity for the Visit Malaysia Year 2007 had been a success,” he said in an interview with Bernama.

Azizan was presented with a crystal plaque with a citation. “This award coincides not only with the Visit Malaysia Year 2007 but also with the 50th anniversary of our independence,” he said.

He described the award coming from a US-based magazine as a “big achievement.”

“Our media and advertising efforts are paying dividends now. The award is also a testimonial that Malaysia is now making a mark in the international arena,” he added.

At the end of the award ceremony, Azizan was mobbed by many among the audience who congratulated him and Tourism Malaysia for the “spectacular success,” as some kept saying.

What has surprised many tourism experts is that Malaysia, which seems to be ranking low in the consciousness of many potential tourists in this country, should have been selected, particularly because Southeast Asia has generally been negatively portrayed in the local media.

The region was plagued by the tsunami in Thailand and Indonesia, the coup d’etat in Thailand, volcanic eruptions and fundamentalism in Indonesia, and the haze that hung over Malaysia resulting from the fires in Indonesia.

“People generally associate the entire region with problems … it is therefore all the more remarkable that Malaysia could achieve such a resounding success despite these problems and was voted the best tourist destination,” exclaimed John McKintosh, a Pennsylvanian travel consultant.

Runners-up to Malaysia were Singapore, Hong Kong, Italy, Indonesia (Bali), Hawaii, Thailand (Phuket), South Africa, Fiji and Australia.

In what is being viewed by many as yet another “feather in Malaysia’s cap” is the rating given to Kuala Lumpur by the global financial services company UBS which has been evaluating the costs incurred by business travellers in a number of cities around the globe.

The latest UBS report has judged Kuala Lumpur as the “best bargain” on the planet.

UBS said that a business traveller would pay an average of US$260 for a hotel room, meals, transportation and entertainment. In comparison, Tokyo is the most expensive city and would cost the traveller US$1,090 a day.