23 January 2013
Efforts are in the pipeline to correct the imbalance between Malaysian tourist arrivals and tourism receipts, Tourism Malaysia director-general Datuk Mirza Mohammad Taiyab said here.
The opening of the new low-cost carrier terminal, known as Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (klia2), and the expansion of air linkages into the country could contribute to addressing the issue, he said.
According to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), Malaysia was the ninth most-visited country in the world in 2009, 2010 and 2011.
However, when it came to international tourism receipts, UNWTO ranked Malaysia on 14th spot in 2010 and 2011.
Malaysia recorded 24.7 million tourist arrivals and RM58.3 billion in tourism revenue in 2011. Data for tourist arrivals and tourism receipts for 2012 are not available yet.
Mirza told Bernama on the sidelines of the Asean Tourism Forum here that shorter duration of stay and tourists’ choices for more competitive activities were the two factors that had contributed to the low tourism receipts.
He said international tourists coming to Malaysia consisted of 10 per cent from long-haul arrivals; 30 per cent, medium-haul; and 60 per cent, short-haul; with an average duration of stay of 4.6 days at the moment.
"With such a scenario, we cannot expect tourists from short-haul countries like Singapore to stay in Malaysia for two weeks. We need more long-haul tourists, for example from the United States and Europe, to stay longer during their visits," he said. Basically, the longer tourists stay, the more they spend on accommodation, transportation, food and activities.
Mirza said the opening of klia2, which is scheduled for completion in May, could attract more tourists as it can accommodate 45 million passengers a year. KLIA, located next to klia2, can accommodate 25 million passengers a year.
The resumption of flights between Kuala Lumpur and Paris by Malaysia Airlines, scheduled for March, and the introduction of flights between Kuala Lumpur and Paris by Air France in April could bring in more long-haul tourists, he said.
Furthermore, he said, MAS’ plan in ordering new aircraft and reviewing its long-haul routes could contribute to the arrival of more long-haul tourists.
He said the factor of MAS joining other airline alliances would also add more tourists, especially from the long- and medium-haul arrivals.
The new Malaysia-Indonesia low-cost airline, Malindo Airways, which would take off in March, would also increase the momentum for tourist arrivals, he said.
Mirza also said that the opening of new luxury hotels, such as Grand Hyatt KL (2012), the Majestic Hotel KL (2012), St Regis (2014), The Regent (2015) and Four Seasons Place KL (2015), could enhance further the country’s tourism receipts, especially from tourists who were after luxury tourism.
Apart from that, the fast-growing economy in the Asia-Pacific region as well as the creation of the Asean Community by 2015, which allows easier mobility in the region, would further increase tourist arrivals and receipts for Malaysia.
On Tourism Malaysia, he said, efforts would be made to enhance promotional activities at all levels in attracting more tourists, especially during Visit Malaysia Year 2014.
"All these may change the tourist arrivals-receipt imbalance we have experienced in the past," he said.
The tourism industry in Malaysia has provided 1.8 million jobs and contributed RM168 billion to the national gross income.