Tajikistan and Malaysia will jointly boost efforts to develop tourism on a big scale between the two countries, says the Tajikistan Government's Committee for Tourism Development chairman, Numon Abdughafforzoda.

He said last year, the Tajik government conducted several reforms to create favourable tourism conditions, with one of the main reforms being the creation of the e-visa system.

He pointed out that tourists had the opportunity to obtain visa in a simplified form and Tajikistan offered a simplification of the visa system with 112 countries and non-visa regime with the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries.

This year, Tajikistan declared 2018 as the Year of Tourism and Folkcrafts. The government is now conducting several events at national and international levels. Also for the first time, the Tajik government has adopted a National Tourism Development Strategy (2018-2030), he said.

Numon was speaking to Bernama in an interview after signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) for tourism development between both countries here yesterday.

Under the MoU, both parties will work together in the context of capacity building, training, data exchanging in terms of cultural, arrivals and other developments to help one another in tourism development, as well as increase tourist arrivals.

MATTA was represented by deputy president, Akil Yusof.

The signing was witnessed by Tajikistan Ambassador to Malaysia, Dr Muzaffar Muhammadi and took place at the First Tourism Forum Tajikistan-Malaysia 2018. This forum was held for the first time initiated by the Tajikistan Embassy in Malaysia.

According to Numon, Tajikistan hoped to learn from Malaysia's experiences in the promotion of tourism. He said several partnership agreements would be signed between Tajikistan and Malaysian travel agencies, to beef up promotion through joint tour packages as well as seizing opportunities in the industry.

He said six Tajikistan travel agencies were interested in cooperation with Malaysia's travel and tour operators, adding that business-to-business partnerships would be an effective way to strengthen cooperation.

On the forum, Numon said it was a good start for tourism development between Tajikistan and Malaysia, and that it would also serve as a viable platform for travel agencies from both sides to engage in, and exchange expertise to spur the tourism sectors of both countries.

We hope the forum will contribute to mutual benefit. It is a great potential for tourism in Tajikistan and we are keen to establish cooperation and confident it will be fruitful. Tajikistan's tourism is varied from ecological, health and treatment, mountain, to adventure and hunting, he added.

According to Malaysia's Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Mohamaddin Ketapi, Tajikistan is one of the potential sources of inbound tourists for Malaysia.

He said Malaysia welcomed 337 tourists from Tajikistan last year, an increase of 2.43 per cent compared to 2016, while from January to June this year, some 454 Tajikistan tourists visited Malaysia, which saw an increase of 185.5 per cent compared to the same period last year.

He said this in a speech, the text of which was read out by International Promotion Division (America/Europe/Oceania), Tourism Malaysia Senior Director, Zulkifli Yahya, at the forum.

Mohammadin said despite the small number, it was hoped the market would continue to grow based on the positive performance achieved, adding that Malaysia's tourism promotion activities for the Tajikistan market were carried out by the Tourism Malaysia office in Almaty, Kazakhstan.