Kickboxing reality show gives tourism big punchBy : R.S. Kamini
Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen showing off the ‘Contender Asia’ championship belt. With her are (from left) Malaysian Muay Thai fighter Bernard Radin, ‘Contender Asia 2’ executive producer Riaz Mehta, Osys group of companies managing director Muhd Shahnaz Azmi, World Muay Thai Council vice-president and show host Stephan Fox and Malaysian fighter Faizal Ramli.
KUALA LUMPUR: Muay Thai kickboxing reality show Contender Asia will serve as the Tourism Ministry's single biggest channel to promote Malaysia's exotic locations until the end of the year.
Other locations are Kellie's Castle, Perak; Lata Jarum Waterfalls, Pahang; Batu Caves and homestay programmes in Selangor; tattoo and tribal villages in Sabah; Terengganu beaches; Petronas Twin Towers; and a dinner cruise at Putrajaya
The show, expected to air in October, will have 16 fighters from 14 countries competing for "The Contender" title at a purpose-built set in Petaling Jaya.
Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said the projected revenue spin-offs from it would not only boost tourism but elevate Malaysia's profile as a modern, progressive, charming and peaceful country.
Dr Ng said: "I hope Contender Asia can increase awareness of the wonderful sights and sounds of Malaysia as a preferred holiday destination or the best option for a second home."
She said the ministry expected a good promotion for Malaysia My Second Home Programme through the show.
She has directed tourism action councils at the respective destinations to support the filming and minimise red tape when dealing with local authorities.
She was speaking at a press conference to announce that Malaysia would host the kick-boxing show.
Malaysia won the US$1 million (RM3.5 million) bid to bring the cast and crew of Contender Asia through Osys Group, an open system developer which also specialises in biotechnology and aviation industries.
Group managing director Muhd Shahnaz Azm said Malaysia was lucky to have won the bid as 10 countries, including Thailand, where Muay Thai originated, had submitted bids.
Two local Muay Thai fighters will represent the country in this season's show, which comprises 15 weekly elimination rounds followed by the final round to win US$250,000.
Contender Asia was one of the highest-rated reality television shows that achieved the No. 1 spot when it aired on the AXN channel between January and April last year.