The tourism industry contributed RM73.3 billion to the nation’s coffers last year, says Tourism and Culture Minister Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz.
Attributing the revenue to his ministry’s efforts in “propelling the Tourism National Key Economic Areas (NKEA) towards delivering commendable results”, Nazri said the ministry had achieved 112% of its Key Performance Indicators (KPI) last year.
“The government’s decision to enable e-visa applications from China, including a visa free option, saw immediate results with a 26.7% increase in Chinese visitors last year.
“This facility was subsequently extended to other countries like India,” Nazri said at the launch of the Malaysia Business Events Week 2017.
Meanwhile, the tourism sector is expected to remain the third largest contributor to the Malaysian economy this year, despite a drop in tourist arrivals.
The latest official data released by Tourism Malaysia, which was compiled with the cooperation of the immigration department, revealed that overall tourist arrivals slipped by 0.9% year-on-year (y-o-y) until May to 10.82 million visitors compared with the first five months a year ago, The Edge Financial Daily reported.
Based on an average of tourist arrivals for the first five months in the past five years, this year also shows a slight drop of 0.61%.
However, the attraction of the Kuala Lumpur 2017 SEA Games held last month has not been factored in. Nazri had previously been reported as saying that 700,000 tourists were expected in conjunction with the SEA Games.
However, on a positive note, the Tourism Malaysia report states the number of tourists increased from some countries, most significantly, China.
According to the report, the number of tourists coming from China has gone up by 7.8% in the first five months of the year, compared with the same period last year.
Four out of the nine Asean countries also had such an increase with Brunei leading the way, showing a 37.7% increase to 741,420 tourists arrivals. The other Asean countries with increased numbers were Vietnam, Laos and Thailand.
The increase from these four countries helped to offset the reduced arrivals from the other five countries – Singapore, the Philippines, Myanmar, Cambodia and Indonesia – and boost overall Asean tourist arrivals by 0.62%.
More Malaysians travelling abroad
Meanwhile, according to The Edge, data released by MAHB saw passenger traffic in the international sector had grown by 14.8% y-o-y to 28 million for the period of January to July this year, with about 13.8 million to Asean destinations while the remaining 14.2 million went to non-Asean destinations.
An analyst who covered the aviation, airport and tourism sectors, concluded that the data could be an indication that more Malaysians are travelling abroad despite the weak ringgit, which in turn helped to lift the passenger traffic in the international sector.
“If you look at some of the hotel operators such as Shangri-La, you could see a drop in occupancy rate in Kuala Lumpur and Penang.
“We will still need to wait for the official data to gauge how the tourism sector will fare this year,” the analyst told the financial publication.-FMT