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Malaysia ex-minister slammed for suggesting turning floods into tourist draws

THE STRAITS TIMES – Malaysia’s former tourism, arts and culture minister has been scorned on social media for saying that there is a potential for the annual floods in the country to become a “tourism attraction”.

Instead of crying over the situation going beyond control, Nazri Aziz said that the country should seek opportunities by promoting “voluntourism”, or volunteer tourism.

“If you know it is coming, then start planning now.

“Maybe we can have voluntary tourism where people come to the country to help us with the floods, and it is not about them coming here just to enjoy but for them to also learn,” he was quoted as saying by Sinar Harian’s English portal Sinar Daily.

The Padang Rengas Member of Parliament added that the opportunity could be a silver lining while the country was facing economic challenges by attracting foreign tourists to join volunteer programmes during natural disasters.

“When our currency falls, it’s time for us to promote tourism for the country because it is cheap for them. The Singaporeans will come because they spend only one-third of their salary, and to them, our five or six star hotels are just so cheap,” Nazri added.

Nazri Aziz says that the country should seek opportunities by promoting ‘voluntourism’. PHOTO: THE STRAITS TIMES

Citing the yearly floods in Kuala Krai, Kelantan, Nazri said: “The flood is like a festival. Every monsoon, we have a flood festival, and people will come.”

“Because now there is voluntourism, where foreigners come to do volunteer work and they pay (to buy tickets and so on),” he added.

However, Internet users slammed the idea saying that there was nothing attractive about life-threatening floods.

Some Twitter users added that instead of turning floods into an attraction, the government should work on preventing the natural disaster.

Between December 17 and 19 last year, around 18,860 people were evacuated from their homes to 64 temporary relief centres after floods hit the Klang district, following continuous rain.

In the 2014 major floods in Kelantan, almost 200,000 people had to be evacuated from their homes.

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