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|Foreign tourists visit the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur.|
Speaking at the inauguration of the Visit Malaysia Year 2014 campaign at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak told an audience of more than 5,000 Malaysians and 110 foreign reporters and photojournalists from 25 countries, that attracting more foreign tourists to the country is a "national mission".
It is not just the Tourism Ministry but all the state agencies and the Malaysian people who have to join hands in accomplishing this mission, he said.
"Every Malaysian has a role to make this a successful campaign, be they taxi drivers, customs employees, hotel receptionists, travel agents or even common citizens.
"Everyone must be able to convince potential tourists that they will have a great time in Malaysia," Razak said.
The campaign will run throughout 2013, with the target of attracting 28 million foreign tourists in 2014.
Latest data from the Malaysian Tourism Ministry showed that the sector is the third largest contributor to Malaysia's foreign exchange earnings with total revenues of MYR 58.3 billion ($19.35 billion) in 2011.
Tourism-related industries in Malaysia employed almost two million people in 2011.
The number of Vietnamese tourists visiting Malaysia, the second largest tourist attraction in the Asia-Pacific region and the ninth largest in the world, remains rather low compared with other ASEAN countries in recent years.
According to statistics released by Malaysian Tourism Ministry, during the first nine months last year, only around 170,000 Vietnamese tourists visited the country, compared to roughly 10 million from Thailand.
Tourists from Singapore, with which Malaysia shares a border in the southernmost part of the country, also made up the same figure.
The Malaysian Tourism Ministry ranks Viet Nam the fourth lowest among ten ASEAN countries in the number of visitors to Malaysia, above Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos.
Statistics also showed Vietnamese prefer travelling Thailand although both countries have similar infrastructure and services.
By 2020, the Malaysian tourism industry is expected to attract 36 million tourists and record MYR168 billion ($56 billion) in revenues.