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2018-2020 tourist arrival, receipt targets lowered

KUALA LUMPUR (Sept 14): Malaysia has revised down its forecast for the number of tourist arrivals for 2020 by 17% to a more realistic figure of 30 million, from an earlier target of 36 million.

It also expects to earn less tourism receipts of RM100 billion in that year — down 40% from the earlier estimate of RM168 billion.

Accordingly, the tourist arrival targets for 2018 and 2019 have also been revised down to 26.4 million and 28.1 million from an earlier forecast of 33.1 million and 34.5 million respectively.

The country is also expected to earn RM84.9 billion and RM92.2 billion in tourism receipts for 2018 and 2019 respectively, less compared with earlier targets of RM134 billion and RM151 billion respectively.

This was revealed by the Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Mohamaddin Ketapi in his speech at the PATA Travel Mart 2018 in Langkawi yesterday. He did not say why the numbers had been adjusted.

In July, The Edge Malaysia weekly highlighted that based on the latest arrival data available, tourist arrivals in the first four months of the year had declined by 3.4% year-on-year to 8.48 million and noted that it would be a tall order to be able to welcome an average of 3.08 million tourists each month over the remaining months to be able to achieve its goal for 2018.

As such, the revisions are a welcome change as the country has missed its full-year tourist arrival target for five straight years since 2013.

The earlier targets were set under the Tourism National Key Economic Areas strategic plan. Tourism is the third highest contributor to the country’s foreign exchange receipts, after manufacturing and commodities.

Mohamaddin is nevertheless optimistic that the tourism industry will flourish in light of upcoming infrastructure and facilities developments, promotional and marketing strategies from 2018 until 2020, and support from the government and the private sector.

“With these new developments, we hope to serve our tourism partners across the globe better and give complete assurance of our commitment to tourism growth. We look forward to seeing our arrival figures grow to 30 million and tourist receipts reach RM100 billion by 2020,” the minister said. Last year, Malaysia welcomed 25.9 million tourists, who spent a total of RM82.2 billion in the country.

“Acknowledging the importance of connectivity to facilitate travel, Tourism Malaysia is focusing heavily on increasing accessibility to Malaysia via various airline partnership for scheduled and charter flights. The Malaysian government has special incentives for this purpose and Tourism Malaysia is using this to attract international airlines to fly Malaysian routes,” Mohamaddin said, adding that Germany’s Condor Air will commence plying the Frankfurt-Kuala Lumpur route from November.

He pointed out that as at June this year, Malaysia has seen an increase of 14.07% to 2.8 million seats offered per month from a year ago.

Moreover, developments such as Desaru Coast in Johor, Impression City Melaka and 20th Century Fox World Theme Park in Genting Highlands are expected to bring renewed interest in Malaysia.

Malaysia, he added, is also positioning itself as a winter holiday destination and tapping into the luxury market and working with Thomson Cruises (now Marella Cruises). The TUI Discovery Cruise ship will be homeporting in Langkawi, bringing in a potential 7,200 cruise passenger at end-2018. A TUI Germany office, the first in Southeast Asia, will be established in Malaysia. “The presence of TUI Germany here on our shores is a testament of the confidence that the organisation has in Malaysia,” he said.

The government is also looking to promote Malaysia to the movie industry. “Moving forward, our direction for 2018 to 2020 is to optimise digital marketing, focus on industry collaboration, leverage major events for publicity, also leverage megaprojects coming on board in Malaysia, integrate our marketing campaigns with other government agencies and promote Malaysia as a filming destination,” he added.

On accommodation, Mohamaddin said the hotel sector grew by 8.5% with 250 new hotels in 2017. “Looking ahead, there are as many as 130 hotels with 26,000 rooms coming in,” he said in his speech without stating the duration.

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on Sept 7, 2018.

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