Malaysia is hoping the launch of its first online training programme for UK agents will help boost UK arrivals in 2013.

The destination saw UK arrivals increase 5.9% in the first six months of 2012 to 196,738 visitors and expects to maintain that level of growth for the second half of this year.

The director general for the Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board, Dato’ Mirza Mohammad Taiyab, told Travel Weekly: “We are targeting a total of 422,500 UK visitors in 2012 and in 2013, we are expecting that to go up to 450,000.”

The figures place the UK as Malaysia’s eighth biggest international market, a position the director general believes the UK can improve to 7th in the coming years.

The driver will be activity leading up to and around Visit Asia Year in 2014 which Malaysia is going to promote strongly in the UK because of the capacity in airlift available.

Asked about the new ‘Master Malaysia’ training course, which is on the Travel Weekly/Travel Uni platform, he said: “The first thing is to create awareness. The senior travel agents know about Malaysia, but the young ones seem to be ignorant of what Malaysia really is and what it offers. They are bombarded with information on so many places and seem to know about the Maldives and Mauritius, so we need to shout louder and create a database of those agents who are really engaged in learning about Malaysia and sending their clients on holiday there.”

The director general added: “Malalysia is such an easy place to visit and we find that most of our visitors are repeat visitors so if we can get agent to get their customers there once, our job is one. They will come back again.

“Malaysia has so much happening – Visit Malaysia year will be huge and we are currently negotiating special packages with all the hotels. Legoland opened in September, we have a new water park and a new Hello Kitty attraction opening as well as duty free shopping in Kuala Lumpur available. We are going to create some real hype which should help establish huge success.”

Malaysia’s training programme can be accessed here.