GEORGE TOWN: Malaysia plans to go big on durian tourism, says Deputy Agriculture and Agro-based Industries Minister Sim Tze Tzin.
He said this will be done with the cooperation of the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry (Motac).
He also urged farmers to invest in agro-tourism.
"Together with Motac, we want to push for durian tourism, starting middle of this year.
"We urge farmers across the country to upgrade their farms and invest in agro-tourism facilities, such as building chalets and resorts, and offer packages to attract tourists to have fresh durians in their farms.
"This year and next year's Visit Malaysia 2020, we will go big on durian tourism," he said to reporters after launching the Penang International Halal Expo and Conference (PIHEC) at the Subterranean Penang International Convention and Exhibition (SPICE) Centre on Friday (March 1).
Sim also urged durian farmers and traders to comply with the standards of the General Administration of China Customs (GACC) following a meeting with his Chinese counterpart.
Sim said as durians in Malaysia is touted the best in the world, he wants exports stepped up to China.
"We urge durian industry players to be ready and upgrade their farms to increase supply," he said.
Asked if the price of durians will skyrocket with the increased in demand, Sim said it was unlikely to occur if there is sufficient supply.
"I don't think prices will go up if more trees are planted and production increased.
"If there is a demand, more people will invest.
"With newer technologies and modern farming, the trees can produce more fruits and prices will sustain or might even go down.
"If want to capitalise on durians, we need to produce more durian downstream products such as durian ice creams, durian cakes, durian coffee, durian pizzas or even durian bak kut teh to get the best value of them," added Sim.