(File pix) A view of Pulau Perhentian. Terengganu hopes to entice the 2.12 million Chinese tourists visiting Malaysia to the east coast peninsula state through direct chartered flights. Pix by Mohd Syafiq Ridzuan Ambak

KUALA TERENGGANU: Terengganu hopes to entice the 2.12 million Chinese tourists visiting Malaysia to the east coast peninsula state through direct chartered flights.

Terengganu tourism department director Tun Ahmad Faisal Tun Abdul Razak said direct chartered flights to Kuala Terengganu were the answer as a majority of them tourists flew direct to either Kota Kinabalu, Kuala Lumpur, Langkawi, Penang or Johor Baru from 13 different cities in China.

China Southern Airlines and AirAsia operate some of these direct flights.

“We also have to seriously look into initiating similar direct charter flights from China to Kuala Terengganu if we want to capture the visitors from there.

“Once Terengganu has become attractive enough with a regular influx of Chinese tourists, then we can move towards scheduled commercial flights,” said Faisal, adding that Malaysia’s beaches and islands were a huge attraction to tourists from China.

He added that Terengganu did not want to solely depend on its idyllic islands in the South China Sea to attract Chinese tourists, as it would mean focusing on seasonal visitors between March and September only.

“The islands will be off limits during the treacherous monsoon season with rough seas during October to February.

“We cannot just sit around and lose tourism revenue.Thus, we have come up with alternative tourism packages to Kenyir Lake and other tourist attractions like sporting and cultural activities,” said Faisal.

Tourism Malaysia’s Southern China director Sharon Ho said Chinese tourists also loved seafood which was very palatable and affordable in Malaysia.

“That is why places like Sabah are a paradise for them. Apart from excellent diving and snorkeling facilities, Sabah also provides good entertainment and seafood.

“The Chinese just love the sunny beaches,” she said.

Sharon called on Terengganu to prepare better facilities at its airport, jetties, hotels and for transport to accommodate the large influx of visitors from China.

“There must be adequate parking for tour buses, too, as plane loads of visitors can cause jams.

“And don’t forget Mandarin-speaking tour guides,” she said, adding the target was on quality tourists who had a greater spending power.

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