Malaysia recorded an overall growth of 1.2% in tourist arrivals with 9,438,592 tourists for the first five months of 2012 as compared to 9,323,827 for the same period last year, confirmed by the Tourism Minister, Dato’ Sri Dr. Ng Yen Yen. The Asean region contributed the largest number of tourists to Malaysia with 73.4% of the total arrivals.
Total receipts by tourists from January to May 2012 rose by +1.9%, generating RM21.8 billion to the country’s revenue compared to RM21.4 billion in 2011. The tourists’ per capita expenditure for that period is estimated at RM 2,309, an increase of 0.7% on 2011.
The minister added that in line with the Malaysia Tourism Transformation Plan 2020 towards achieving 36 million tourist and 168billion in receipts by 2020, it is important for Malaysia to shift its focus on growing yield per tourist rather than to rely heavily on growth in tourist arrivals. “To attract the higher yield segment, we will need to enhance connectivity to key priority markets.”
The successful Homestay Programme has been identified by the Ministry to develop rural tourism; the programme recorded a significant increase of 38.4% of occupancy rate compared to 24.9% for the same period last year. A total of 133,689 tourists visited a homestay from January to May 2012 of which 110,322 were domestic tourists and the rest 23,367 were foreign visitors. This is a 70.7% increase compared to the same period last year. Tourist receipts from the homestay programme for the first five months of 2012 also generated RM 7,376,446.50 (+53.1%) compared to RM4, 817,158.30 in January to May 2011. Increased spending by these tourists has stimulated the rural economy and the homestay tourism programme has encouraged local communities to be a part of rural based tourism whilst maintaining their traditions and identities.
Recognized as one of the National Key Economic Areas, the tourism industry remains as one of the major contributors to Gross National Income, foreign exchange earnings and employment. In 2011, tourism ranked seventh largest contributor with a GNI total of USD12.3billion and the third largest foreign exchange earner after manufacturing and palm oil. The Malaysian tourism industry in 2010 provided 1.8 million jobs (16% share of employment in tourism to total employment). Amongst the 12 Entry Point Projects are duty free shopping, luxury tourism, designating KLCC-Bukit Bintang area as a vibrant shopping precinct, improving business tourism and increasing the supply of 4 & 5 star hotel rooms.
The percentage of tourist shopping recorded from January to May 2012 shows 32.3% (RM7.04 billion) of the total tourist receipts, an increase of 30% on 2011. The covered walkway connecting Bukit Bintang and KLCC, completed early this year, to facilitate shopping has shown a positive impact.
To attract increased high yield tourists, the Ministry of Tourism has a target to increase the number of quality four & five star hotel rooms from 59,804 to 37,000 by 2020. Currently 71% of the target has been achieved with 2,123 rooms completed.
Malaysia prides itself as a world class destination for Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions (MICE). The Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau (MyCEB) successfully secured 33 major events throughout January to May 2012, attracting total delegates of 50,770 and generating an estimated economic impact of RM499.9 mil. The International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) Rankings 2011 ranked Kuala Lumpur number 21 in the world and number 5 in Asia Pacific. Malaysia ranked number 29 in the world and number 7 in Asia Pacific.
In order to grow the tourism industry, efforts have intensified towards enhancing existing tourism products and developing new, creative and innovative tourism products. This included the “1Malaysia International Shoe Festival 2012”, “1Malaysia International Tourism Exchange 2012”, “1Malaysia Contemporary Art Tourism 2012” and the most recent “1Malaysia International Tourism Night Floral Parade 2012”.
The Ministry of Tourism’s ‘Malaysia: Truly Asia’ branding is recognised worldwide and the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has ranked Malaysia the ninth most travelled to destination in the world.