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Thailand: Prime Minister wants efforts to draw more sport tourists be intensified

More efforts need to be done to draw sport-tourists as leisure sports is now seen as one important impetus to the growth of the Malaysian tourism industry…

More efforts need to be done to draw sport-tourists as leisure sports is now seen as one important impetus to the growth of the Malaysian tourism industry, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said.

He said this was because travelling for leisure sports had become more possible and more accessible due to the increasing affordability of travel and the wide array of tourist products.

Perhaps, for many people, such travel is a greater luxury compared to more conventional forms of tourism, he said in his speech at the launching of the national-level World Tourism Day 2004 here. The text of his speech was read out Monday by his deputy, Najib Razak.

According to Abdullah, it was more crucial therefore, for the sports and adventure industry to have more synergies with tourist operators to create more effective marketing for sports tourism.

He said although it seems obvious enough that sports and tourism can enjoy a strong symbiotic relationship, it was a challenge for the two to be positioned so as to extract maximum value and impact for both sports and tourism.

Stressing that leisure sports tourism could not be neglected, he said that participation in leisure sports could present a bigger economic and social potential than other major spectator sports events.

He said that being active in sports had long been a source of enjoyment and cultural fulfilment for people the world over.

When tied to travelling, the sense of adventure and enjoyment can only be heightened, he said, adding that opportunities in this sort of enjoyment and adventure need to be explored and optimised.

The growth in the number of scuba divers, snowboaders, golfers and the like, is proof of the evolutionary nature of sporting opportunities, he said.

Abdullah said individuals were now more interested to take up these sports because of their image and challenge while some individuals may even be interested to travel in order to learn these sports.

Such as in the case of scuba diving, once the sport is learnt, many become avid practitioners and may even travel the world to find the best spots and attractions, he said.

The Prime Minister also said that the theme of this year`s World Tourism Day — `Sports and Tourism: Two Living Forces for Mutual Understanding, Culture and the Development of Societies`, seek to explore the inter-relationship between sports and tourism.

Recent sporting events such as the Olympic Games in Athens and the European Football Championship in Portugal (Euro 2004), had shown how powerful such events can be in fulfilling the desire for exciting new experiences, he said.

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