KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – Kuala Lumpur is expected to receive 16 million foreign tourists annually by 2025, with an expected growth of 4% each year, Kuala Lumpur mayor Datuk Seri Ahmad Phesal Talib said.

To ensure tourists experience the best the city can offer during their stay, Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) has launched two new tourism initiatives — the KL Tourism Ambassador program and the KL Tourist Guidebook.

“Kuala Lumpur is voted one of the New7Wonders Cities of the World in an international survey. To maintain a good global reputation, we need to improve and enhance our products, services and infrastructure.

“The KL Tourism Ambassador Project (KLAP) is a collaboration between DBKL and 1Malaysia for Youth (iM4U), in which 40 youths volunteer as KL Tourism Ambassadors and have a deeper involvement in the tourism industry,” Ahmad Phesal said during the launch at the Kuala Lumpur Library.

He added that the program was modeled after similar programs implemented in Melbourne, Vancouver, Berlin and Hong Kong.

The international voting was conducted by the Zurich-based non-governmental organisation New7Wonders Foundation which, according to its website, has the aim “to create a global memory by garnering participation worldwide.”

Each clad in a red vest, white cap and a Visit KL bag, the ambassadors can be found in high-traffic tourist areas all over Kuala Lumpur to assist tourists with information on attractions, general directions, events and dining, as well as suggest options of places to see and things to do.

These volunteers will represent Kuala Lumpur in promoting tourism opportunities and attributes in a positive manner while enhancing the visitor’s experience.

iM4U chief operating officer Azlan Rudy Malik said the ambassadors had gone through screening and interview processes to qualify.

“To prepare for duty, the ambassadors underwent a six-day training program to arm them with the right skills and attitude,” he said, adding that their service period ranged between three and six months.

Meanwhile, the KL Tourist Guidebook which was also launched at the event, is an effort by DBKL to enhance the overall consistency, depth and experience delivered by tour guides to tourists.

“We collaborated with the KL Tourist Guides Association to develop the 150-page book to provide comprehensive facts, descriptions and anecdotes of tourists spots in the nation’s capital.

“Being the first of its kind in Malaysia, the KL Tourist Guidebook is designed to be a complete manual for tourists and has been categorised according to six strategic zones, namely City Centre, Wangsa Maju-Maluri, Sentul Menjalara, Bukit Jalil-Seputeh, Bandar Tun Razak and Sungai Besi to enable the user to explore the city with ease,” said Ahmad Phesal.

Also present during the launch were AirAsia X chief executive officer Azran Osman-Rani, Bumitra president Datuk Syed Mohd Razif Syed Yasin, Pacific Asia Travel Association (Pata) life member and KL Tourism Development Council co-chairman Tunku Datuk Seri Iskandar Tunku Abdullah, DBKL deputy director-general (management) Datuk Normah Malik, Visit Malaysia Year 2014 secretariat general manager Nor Yahati Awang, Roland Berger Malaysia managing partner Anthonie Versluis, Malaysian Tourist Guide Council president Jimmy Leong Wie Kong and KL Tourist Guides Association chairman Wong Hing Tuck.

The KL Tourist guidebook will be available from this month and will be translated into other languages to facilitate non-English speaking tourist guides and tourists. It will also be made available on the DBKL-managed official website for the city, www.visitkl.gov.my