KUALA LUMPUR:A study by Tourism Malaysia found that foreign visitors are drawn to the country's rich cultural tapestry through historical walking tours, traditional arts performances and cultural events, including batik-drawing workshops.

Deputy Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Muhammad Bakhtiar Wan Chik said with this in mind, 198 exciting cultural activities had been lined up in conjunction with Visit Malaysia Year 2020 (VMY2020).

With global trends pointing towards experiential tourism as a preferred way to travel, tourists want to experience a destination that offers rich cultural heritage and great creative expressions from the local community.

Bakhtiar said the recent launch of Tourism Malaysia's Kuala Lumpur (KL) Heritage Food Trails package, among other exciting new initiatives, would continue to bring visitors to places like Kampung Baru, Petaling Street and Brickfields in pursuit of authentic local experiences.

"In Brickfields itself, there are many houses of worship, such as the Buddhist Maha Vihara Temple (built in 1894), the Three Teachings Chinese Temple, Sri Kandaswamy Hindu Temple and the Holy Rosary Church with its well-preserved Neo-Gothic style," he said after launching the VMY2020 Happenings@KL Sentral.

Among the events lined up are the East Coast Craft Textile Festival (Jan 23-Feb 2) showcasing batik-painting and songket-weaving, International Aborigines and Indigenous Arts Festival (Aug 5-Aug 9) and Malaysian Games Festival (Sept 25-Sept 27).

Bakhtiar said a reliable transport system was crucial to ensure that tourists get the most out of their stay.

He said the Express Rail Link (ERL) service, connecting KLIA and klia2 to KL Sentral, was currently working on a travel pass for tourists with RapidKL called the KL Travel Pass.

The pass would cover airport transfer and two-day unlimited rides on LRT, MRT and KL Monorail lines to cater to touriststravel needs.

Bakhtiar said the high number of transit passengers at KLIA would have a positive impact on the tourism industry.

The VMY2020 Happenings@KL Sentral, held in collaboration with the National Department for Culture and Arts, is a twice-monthly cultural performance that showcases Malaysia's heritage to visitors at KL Sentral.

"I would like to urge more industry players and operators in the travel and tourism ecosystem to come forward and join us in ensuring a successful VMY2020 campaign," Bakhtiar added.

He welcomed the initiative to introduce Transit Without Visa (TWOV) to citizens from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, India and Pakistan.

They can take advantage of the TWOV and we can offer them a package to tour around Kuala Lumpur or Selangor within the 120 hours (five days).

Meanwhile, ERL chief executive officer Noormah Noor said the company would be organising a monthly KLIA Express Ride & Win Campaign starting from Feb 1, in collaboration with the Tourism Ministry.

For the complete list of events that covers all states and various traditions and cultures, visit www.malaysia.travel.

Malaysia has set a target of 30 million international tourist arrivals this year, with an expected revenue of RM100 billion from the industry.