MALAYSIA is projecting 450,000 tourist arrivals from Britain this year, surpassing 2010's 429,900 arrivals.
However, over the past two years, tourist arrivals from Britain have declined slightly due to the discouraging economic conditions in the country and the European Union.
Last year, there were 402,207 tourists from Britain while in 2011, there were 403,140 arrivals. Despite that, for both years, the UK was still among the top 10 tourist generating markets for Malaysia.
Malaysian High Commissioner to Britain Datuk Seri Zakaria Sulong said despite Britain's lacklustre economic growth, its currency is still very strong.
"The British can stretch the pound by visiting Malaysia," he said.
Zakaria said this year's growth in tourist arrivals is expected to be driven by Malaysia Airlines' (MAS) A380 aircraft, exciting tour packages offered by private operators, as well as the ongoing promotions by Tourism Malaysia.
"The deployment of the A380 aircraft for the 12-hour non-stop flight between KL and London will contribute to more tourists visiting Malaysia.
"This is because for long-haul flights, passengers prefer comfort. MAS is the only non-stop direct flight from London to KL," he said when met in London recently.
MAS started two A380 flights a day for the KL-London-KL route from November 24 last year.
The superjumbo passenger jet, which can carry 494 passengers, has higher fuel efficiency, the lowest environmental impact and a more comfortable cabin.
Zakaria said tour operators play an important role in attracting tourists to Malaysia, citing the honeymoon packages initiated by the private sector.
He said the media from the UK are also brought to Malaysia to familiarise themselves with new tourism products.
"We also promote luxury holidays in Malaysia, weddings and homestay programmes," he said, adding that the Malaysia My Second Home scheme has also been successful in attracting the British people to live in Malaysia.
He noted that the quality of life in Malaysia, which is at par with Britain, the good exchange rate, excellent infrastructure and all-year-round sunny weather are among factors that have attracted British citizens to Malaysia under the scheme.
"The upmarket hotels in Malaysia are popular with the British people. We had a lot of repeat visitors. We also target military veterans and retired civil servants who've done their service in Malaya. They usually come with their families," he added.
Various events held in the UK by Tourism Malaysia and Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation have also helped to promote Malaysia to people in the UK. These include the Malaysia Kitchen Programme, Malaysia Night and Malaysian Spice Kitchen.