Siew said he expected over 20 per cent growth in tourist arrivals from India this year as a result of new marketing efforts in major Indian cities.
“The target of one million can be achieved by 2020,” he said at a travel industry fair here.
India is one of the top 10 sources of foreign tourists for Malaysia, with 638,578 Indian arrivals recorded in 2016.
According to latest figures, total arrivals from India from January to October in 2017 were 449,559.
Tourism Malaysia has grown its engagement with Indian tour operators and planned to hold several promotion events over the next six months across the country, he said.
“We hope tourist arrivals will pick up from India this year by 20 to 30 per cent. We are going to increase Malaysia’s exposure in this important market,” Siew said.
Industry sources said travel from India to Malaysia has been affected by the stagnant Indian outbound market.
The closure of indoor and outdoor theme parks for renovation and redevelopment at Genting, one of popular attractions for Indian families visiting Kuala Lumpur, has also contributed to a drop in Indian arrivals.
Sanjeet Joher, a director at Cox & Kings travel company, said Malaysia was popular as a family destination, so Genting affected this segment.
“You will see a recovery when it reopens,” said Joher.
Joher said the opening of the Desaru Coast theme park in Johor Bahru would be a new attraction for Indian families travelling to Malaysia.
The Desaru Coast development has one of the world’s biggest waterparks and includes hotels, golf courses and a conference centre.
Different Malaysian states have their own campaigns in collaboration with Tourism Malaysia to woo Indians visitors, whose numbers are expected to reach 50 million per year in another 10 years from an estimated 20 million now.
“We are looking for tourists interested in history, heritage sites and the variety of Malaysian cuisine. Our target from India this year is 40,000,” said Wan Mariati Wan Sohak from Tourism Melaka.
With some 230 weekly flights offering more than 41,000 seats from India to Malaysia, the Malaysian tourism promotion efforts are multi-pronged and target all segments of potential travellers in mega cities as well as smaller cities.
Malaysia has tourism promotion offices here, Mumbai and Chennai, and with travel from eastern India looking promising, there is also a plan to set up a Tourism Malaysia office in Kolkata.
The Tourism Malaysia chairman said the promotion of Visit Malaysia Year 2020 would ensure a greater awareness of Malaysia as an ideal holiday destination for Indian tourists.
The initiative, part of achieving the Malaysia Tourism Transformation Plan goals, seeks to welcome 36 million foreign tourists and RM168 billion in tourist revenue by 2020.