Malaysian prime minister Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak has cited tourism as a major factor in the growth of the national economy.
Joining the Global Leaders for Tourism Campaign earlier, the prime minister argued the sector has a crucial role in transforming Malaysia into a high-income country by 2020.
The campaign is sponsored by the United Nations World Travel Organisation/World Travel & Tourism Council.
Tourism has been named as one of twelve National Key Economic Areas at the centre of Malaysia’s efforts to transform itself, explained the prime minister on receiving an Open Letter from UNWTO secretary-general, Taleb Rifai.
He spoke of the importance afforded to the tourism sector by the Malaysian government, in particular to the principles of sustainability, diversification and the rejuvenation of mature destinations such as Langkawi and Penang.
The prime minister assured Rifai he would work to “become an ambassador for world tourism”.
“Malaysia has clearly recognised tourism as a powerful driver of economic growth, as set out in the country’s Economic Transformation Programme,” Rifai explained following his meeting with the Prime Minister.
“By specifically targeting tourism, the government is providing the sector the support it needs to contribute to Malaysia’s medium term growth.
“Joining the Global Leaders for Tourism Campaign is a further show of this commitment to growth and development through tourism,” he added.
The strong message of support for the industry embodied in the acceptance of the Open Letter shows the government’s commitment to realising travel and tourism potential to create jobs, generate exports and stimulate investment, added WTTC president David Scowsill.
“The importance of tourism as a driver of Malaysia’s economy is clear.
“Travel and tourism makes a contribution of five per cent - or MYR124.7 billion - of GDP in 2011 to the Malaysian economy and supports 1.6 million jobs or 13.8 per cent of total employment,” he added.