(l-r) Haris Hadi, VP, Tourism Malaysia; Dato Sri Dr. Ng Yen Yen,
Malaysia’s Minister of Tourism;
Hassan Bal, Consul General of Malaysia
A travelling window display with live Malaysian models
Malaysia’s tourism minister promotes her country to Vancouverites
The venue: the popular Malaysian restaurant in Vancouver, Banana Leaf. Parked outside the restaurant was a van plastered with decals of Malaysia and a live window exhibit â€“ two models dressed in native costumes of Sarawak. Needless to say, this eye-catching display attracted quite a bit of attention.
Standing outside the restaurant was the guest of honour, Malaysiaâ€™s Minister of Tourism, Dato Sri Dr. Ng Yen Yen. In Vancouver on unofficial business (here for the Olympic Games after visiting her son whoâ€™s in Halifax on a medical fellowship), the ebullient Dato Ng was in her element promoting Malaysia to passersby.
In her speech, Dato Ng said that the total number of visitors from Canada reached 88,000 last year. However, she is determined that more effort be put in to increase arrivals, with special focus on Vancouver and Toronto. Among the offerings she highlighted, Dato Ng talked about the homestay program whereby students live with a local family in the rural areas. The student travellers eat and work at the same jobs as the host family (e.g. tapping rubber, planting rice) while learning the culture of the country. At the end of the stay, each student plants a tree in the community. â€œWe are empowering rural tourism by educating locals through eco-tourism,â€ she said.
Dinner guests (a small group of about 20 media and tour operators) were then treated to popular Malaysian dishes such as beef rendang (tender beef chunks cooked in a spicy gravy), pepper crab, satay (meat on wooden skewers), roti canai (flat bread that is eaten with curry) and pisang goreng (fried banana fritters with ice cream). Â If the cuisine is any indicator, Malaysia is well worth a visit.