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KUANTAN: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak praised the official launch of Visit Pahang Year 2017 here tonight, describing it as a major boost for the economy. In a brief video teleconference witnessed by a 5,000-strong crowd at the open parking lot of the Urban Transformation Centre(UTC) here, Najib said the Federal government places emphasis on the tourism sector to inject money into the economy. Najib expressed confidence in the state's aim of drawing 15 million visitors this year, given its succcess in previous years where Pahang had succeeded in attracting 10.5 million visitors in 2015 and 12 million last year.

"With the various diverse tourism products and extensive promotions done (since last year), there is a high chance that the tourism target can be achieved," he said. The audience laughed and clapped with approval when Najib replied to a question by acting Sultan of Pahang, Tengku Mahkota Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, on when he would be visiting the state. Najib, who is Pekan member of parliament, said he is naturally a frequent visitor to Pahang. "All the best to Pahang," Najib ended his teleconference, amidst loud cheers and applause from the audience, who sat under protective wide canopies to shelter from the rain. Earlier, acting Sultan of Pahang, Tengku Mahkota Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, officiated the launch of Visit Pahang Year 2017 here. Despite initial heavy rain at the open parking lot of the UTC here, around 5,000 people who thronged under protective wide canopies cheered as Tengku Abdullah made the declaration.

During his speech, Tengku Mahkota said that it is timely for the state government and private sector to push ahead with initiatives to attract visitors in light of the proposed building of the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL). The ECRL is an ambitious rail project that aims to connect Kuala Lumpur with various parts of Pahang, Terengganu, and Kelantan. "We aim to attract 15 million visitors to Pahang this year. We hope tourists would visit every district here, and help boost the local economy," he said. He said with the latest survey showing Pahang being ranked as the third most attractive place to visit among the Malaysian states, it is high time all parties work together to make the campaign a success."This we should do under any conditions whether rain, thunder, or shine," he said to cheers from the audience.There were also brief video teleconferences by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Abdul Aziz, who expressed confidence in the campaign to attract visitors to Pahang. Also present were Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob and state tourism and culture committee chairman Datuk Seri Mohd Sharkar Shamsudin.