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Thursday, August 23, 2012

MALAYSIA OPEN HOUSE CAN DRAW TOURISTS

23 August 2012 | last updated at 12:36AM Open house can be huge tourist draw

By SEAN AUGUSTIN, YISWAREE PALANSAMY AND NURADILLA NOOR AZAM | news@nst.com.my 0 comments

ENJOYABLE EXPERIENCE: Country can use this uniquely Malaysian practice to attract foreigners Locals and foreigners at an open house in Kota Kinabalu early this week. This open house tradition will boost unity and tourism. Pic by Edmund Samunting 1 / 1 KUALA LUMPUR:

HOLDING open house is a unique Malaysian trait. It not only promotes unity among the races but can also be put on the tourism calendar.

The various key players and stakeholders in the tourismindustry said the country could use the open house concept to promote itself to the world.

“This is the beauty of our country. People open up their homes to those from different walks of life, and this strengthens unity and harmony,” said Tourism Malaysia chairman Datuk Dr Victor Wee.

He said tourism industry players could combine their open house functions with other programmes to allow tourists to experience Malaysian culture.

“Many tourists participate in homestay programmes to experience village life. It will be great if we can organise Hari Raya celebrations in homestays.

At the same time, every state has its own way of celebrating Hari Raya. “Tourists will find this a fulfilling vacation as they get to learn about different traditions.”

Echoing Wee’s concerns, Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents president Datuk Mohd Khalid Harun said despite open house being a distinct Malaysian feature, not many tour operators promoted it to foreign tourists.

“Tour operators should encourage foreigners to visit Malaysia during festive seasons. It is a unique concept that isn’t seen in other parts of the world,” he told the New Straits Times yesterday.

Khalid said promoting the open house could also boost the aviation industry, as more tourists would fly to the country.

In supporting the idea, Tourism Malaysia director-general Datuk Mirza Mohammad Taiyab Beg urged government agencies to inform the department of the dates and venues of their open house functions so that tour operators could include them in their itineraries. “The open house can draw a lot of tourists. We will be happy to promote it.”

Even Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, during his Hari Raya open house on Sunday, expressed happiness that Malaysians held this practice abroad, including serving lemang, ketupat and rendang to guests.

He described the open house tradition as a unique practice adopted by Malaysians to mark festivities.

Tour operator Datin Baizura Abu Bakar said the open house showed the true spirit of unity. “The spirit of 1Malaysia is seen in the Hari Raya open house. “People from all walks of life mix with one another.” Baizura said tourists who attended the open house would enjoy the experience. "They will feel that Malaysia is their second home."

   Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk S.K. Devamany said the open house concept promoted unity among the races.

  "This tradition, which dates back to 1960s, is entrenched in our culture. People understand each other's way of life this way.

  "There is no better way to bring together so many races under one roof. Therefore, Malaysians should be encouraged to have open house  to  boost unity.

  "People all over the world crave for this sort of togetherness. This tradition of ours is a highly bankable one for the  tourism sector." Additional reporting by Nuradilla Noorazam and Hashini Kannan

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