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2007 officially declared Visit Malaysia year

2007 was officially declared Visit Malaysia Year with pomp and splendour amid a spectacular fireworks display and…

2007 was officially declared Visit Malaysia Year with pomp and splendour amid a spectacular fireworks display and a colourful concert showcasing the diversity of the nation.

The declaration was made by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak at the historical Dataran Merdeka before some 100,000 Malaysians from all walks of life just before the stroke of midnight.

Visit Malaysia Year 2007 is expected to increase the number of tourist arrivals to the country from the current 15 million to 20 million in 2007. The country targets to attract some 17.3 million tourists this year (2006).

The third edition of Visit Malaysia Year in 2007, after 1990 and 1994, is considered special because it coincides with Malaysia`s 50th year of independence.

Apart from launching Visit Malaysia Year 2007, the deputy prime minister also launched the logo for the campaign and witnessed the countdown to the 2006 New Year alongside thousands of Malaysians, who had started converging at Dataran Merdeka from as early as 6pm.

In a brief speech at the ceremony, Najib said the decision to organise Visit Malaysia Year 2007 was made by the Cabinet, and it was also to mark 50 years of Malaysia`s independence.

By way of this programme, we hope to showcase a modern Malaysia to the world, he said.

Najib also said it was hoped that the programme would foster greater solidarity, harmony and wellbeing for the people, which would also be experienced by tourists.

Visit Malaysia Year would also encourage economic growth and open up job opportunities for Malaysians, he said.

Najib reminded the people that it was also their responsibility to make Visit Malaysia Year a success as the task was not solely the government`s.

Tourism Minister Datuk Dr Leo Michael Toyad, who was also present at the ceremony, said the ministry would aggressively market and promote Malaysia as a major international tourist destination this year.

He said that with 2007 having been made Visit Malaysia Year, the government was confident of achieving its target of wooing some 20 million foreigners to visit the country.

We are confident that 2007 would be able to attract the tourists, especially when it has been a decade since the last such campaign. The last Visit Malaysia Year was in 1994 and before that in 1990, he added.

He said that prior to the launch of Visit Malaysia Year 2007, the ministry had started an initiative dubbed Malaysia Welcomes The World, a preparatory programme for Visit Malaysia Year 2007 to upgrade the hospitality skills of Malaysians nationwide.

I>The task of this `Malaysia Welcomes The World` programme is not for the Tourism Ministry alone. All Malaysians should rise to the occasion as we open our doors to welcome tourists from all over the world in 2007, he said.

We hope that during the auspicious year when we celebrate the Golden Jubilee of our country`s independence, Malaysians can rightly feel proud of our achievements by inviting the world to our doorsteps and taking good care of those who come to visit us Dr Toyad said.

Earlier, the crowd was entertained to the AmBank Group Gemilang 2006 concert featuring artistes such as Reshmonu, Ruffedge, Zainal Adidin, M. Nasir, Ezlynn, Winnie Kok, Manivanan and the Teh Tarik Crew and several others.

Following the countdown to the new year, the crowd was thrilled with a eight-minute dazzling fireworks display.

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