MALAYSIA generated RM58.3 billion (US$19.5 billion) in tourism revenue in 2011, a three-per cent increase over the RM56.5 billion earned the year before. The country received 24.7 million international visitors in 2011, only a marginal rise over the 24.6 million registered the previous year.
Tourism minister Ng Yen Yen attributed the hike in tourism receipts to Tourism Malaysia’s branding of the country as a luxury destination. “Our efforts to attract high-yield tourists to Malaysia have made a difference,” she said.
Since 2010, initiatives implemented to draw high-end visitors include the organising of annual luxury events like the 1Malaysia International Shoe Festival, 1Malaysia Contemporary Art Tourism Festival, as well as the packaging of helicopter tours.
“Private sector collaboration on events like the CIMB Asia Pacific Classic Malaysia golf tournament also positioned Malaysia as a luxury tourism destination,” Ng added.
Malaysia’s top ten source markets in 2011 were Singapore (13,372,647), Indonesia (2,134,381), Thailand (1,442,048), China (1,250,536), Brunei (1,239,404), India (693,056), Australia (558,411), the UK (403,940), Japan (386,974) and the Philippines (362,101).
The Indonesian market took a major hit last year, with arrivals declining by 14.8 per cent over the year before.
“The abolishment of Indonesia’s fiscal fee allowed its travellers to head to other countries without making a stopover in Malaysia,” explained Ng. “The opening of the integrated resorts and Universal Studios in Singapore, and the reinstatement of Garuda Air’s route to Europe further contributed to the decline.”
Markets that recorded the strongest growth were Kazakhstan, which grew by 65.9 per cent, New Zealand (+ 23 per cent) and Russia (+ 21.3 per cent).
“(Arrivals from) Kazakhstan were assisted by the thrice-weekly direct Air Astana flights from Almaty to Kuala Lumpur, while New Zealand benefited from the opening of a Tourism Malaysia office in Auckland last May,” said Ng.
“Russia saw an increase on the back of strong promotional efforts there, in addition to weekly Transaero flights which commenced last December.”
Reporting by N. Nithiyananthan.