KUALA LUMPUR: Tourists are staying longer and spending more in Malaysia, with Saudi Arabia as the nation with the highest expenditure per capita, says Tourism Malaysia.
The first half of 2019 saw positive growth in tourist arrivals and receipts with a total of 13.3 million arrivals, a 4.9% increase compared to the same period last year.
Tourism receipts generated during this period were RM41.69bil, an increase of 6.8% while the average length of stay had increased from 0.4 nights to 6.2 nights.
Tourism Malaysia director-general Datuk Musa Yusof said a tourist from Saudi Arabia spent an average of RM11,376, followed by those from Britain (RM5,241), Canada (RM4,593.10), China (RM4,546), and the United States (RM4,537).
He said Singapore tops the list of nations that spent the most with a total tourism receipts of RM11.56bil followed by China (RM7.09bil), Indonesia (RM5.71bil), Thailand (RM1.7bil) and Brunei (RM1.52bil).
Tourism Malaysia is targeting 30 million arrivals and RM100bil in tourism receipts for Visit Malaysia 2020 (VM2020).
Speaking at a press conference to welcome foreign media for a mega familiarisation tour in the run-up to VM2020, Musa said the targets were much higher when VM2020 was first drummed up 10 years ago.
“It had to be scaled down due to the spillover from the airline tragedies in 2014. When we first planned VM2020 back in 2009, we had set a loftier target of a whopping 36 million arrivals and RM160bil in tourism receipts.
“What happened was that our tourist arrivals dropped after 2014 because we had very bad incidents, ” he said, referring to Malaysia Airlines Flights MH370 that went missing on March 8,2014, and MH17, which was shot down in Ukraine later on July 17.
Musa said the downing of MH17 caused the biggest impact to the industry, adding that AirAsia Indonesia Flight QZ8501’s crash in the Java Sea on Dec 28,2014, also impacted on the industry.
“People associate AirAsia with Malaysia. There was a perception that there was something wrong in Malaysia, ” he said, adding that the figures did not look well after these devastating tragedies.
“We saw from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) that the arrivals of Asia Pacific travellers had dropped by 23%.
“At that time, we were going full swing in advertising on Discovery, CNN, National Geographic. After that, we had to slow down advertising to reduce the ‘noise’, ” he said.
Musa said they had to then review the VM2020 targets to reflect the impact on the tourism industry, adding that current targets were achievable.
Last year, Malaysia hosted a total of 25.8 million tourists and raked in some RM84.1bil in tourism receipts.
Read more at https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2019/09/04/msia-is-getting-more-popular#ilsRFHgotCUs6mk2.99