More funds needed to hit tourist arrival targets, says Tourism Malaysia

Tourism Malaysia director-general Musa Yusof says Malaysia must match the efforts of regional countries in promoting tourism. – pic from, May 26, 2019.
TOURISM Malaysia needs enough funds for advertising and promotion (A&P), air connectivity and media coverage, if the agency is to regain its footing after continuously missing arrival targets, reports The Edge Weekly.

Tourism Malaysia had missed its target for tourist arrivals for the past eight years.

In 2018, Malaysia recorded 25.83 million tourist arrivals but the target was 26.4 million.

Tourism Malaysia director-general Musa Yusof told the financial paper that other countries in the region have been aggressive in pursuing A&P, and Malaysia will need to match that.

“Rising media costs and the current exchange rate mean that advertising in other countries will be expensive.”

In the last decade, Tourism Malaysia has had its budget in other counties cut by as much as 70%, leading to lower tourist arrivals.

However, Musa said with Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad endorsing Visit Malaysia 2020(VM2020), Tourism Malaysia is confident of moving forward, provided that there is sufficient allocation for A&P.

On improving connectivity, Musa said convincing international airlines to flying to Malaysia is not easy.

He said Tourism Malaysia is trying to convince its partners in Germany and Kazakhstan to get  charter airlines, such as Condor Airlines and Sunday Airlines, to fly to Malaysia.

“With the Joint International Tourism Board Development Programme, we hope to enhance accessibility to Malaysia through airline collaboration and operation of charter flights.”

“The new routes include Dague to Kota Kinabalu (four times a week) and Busan to Kota Kinabalu (daily) by Air Busan and Sharjah to Kuala Lumpur (daily) by Air Arabia.”

Musa said negative publicity, such as the United States designating eastern Sabah as a high risk area for kidnapping, does not reflect the reality on the ground.

He said the Asean market contributed the highest share of tourists receipts, while, China and South Korea recorded the highest growth in spending, increasing 42.1% from RM12.9 billion to RM18.4 billion last year.

Tourist arrivals from medium- and long-haul market also saw an increase of 19.3% in 2018. This was due to improved connectivity and renewed interest in Malaysia.

On falling arrivals from Singapore, Musa said border tourism is crucial for Malaysia as it accounts for 54% of tourists.

However, with growing interest from the long and medium haul markets, it is essential for Tourism Malaysia to look into those markets.

The opening of the Desaru Coast in Johor could attract more Singaporeans while Tourism Malaysia will also look at providing new experience and offering to attract tourists from across the border.

Appearing unperturbed by the departure levy that will come be enforced soon, Musa was quoted by  The Edge in a separate story as saying that it is unlikely for tourists to discount Malaysia solely due to the imposition of taxes.

He said the impact of the levy is likely to be minimal, as Malaysia has strong tourism products. – May 26, 2019.

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