PUTRAJAYA, July 22 (Bernama) -- Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has called on Malaysians to make the ‘Visit Malaysia 2020’ tourism promotion a national mission by telling and sharing the beauty, peace and wonders of the country.
He said everyone had a role to play in the Visit Malaysia 2020 campaign where the government would ensure that the campaign becomes a catalyst for achieving targets set under the Malaysia Tourism Transformation Plan.
“Our hospitality must not be merely a slogan but translated into the nature and culture of our people.
“The beauty of a place will attract but the hospitality will make people stay and return,” he said at the launch of the Visit Malaysia 2020 campaign logo at the KL International Airport (KLIA) here today.
Also present was Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Mohamaddin Ketapi.
Dr Mahathir said tourism is one of the most important sectors to ensure the country’s economic and service sector growth as it is not only able to generate income but also provide employment.
He said the Visit Malaysia 2020 campaign is an opportunity as well as a challenge for the country to attract record numbers of visitors to Malaysia and make the country a destination of choice for leisure and business tourists.
“It is hoped that the Visit Malaysia 2020 campaign will succeed in its target of 30 million international tourist arrivals and RM100 billion tourist receipts,” he said.
Dr Mahathir said increasing flight connectivity from other destinations to Malaysia is one of the initiatives to boost arrivals into Malaysia and meet the campaign targets.
“If we have better air accessibility connecting other cities with Malaysia, we will be able to receive many more tourists,” he said.
“Hence, we need to connect and reach out to “high yield” markets which are Malaysia’s target markets for this campaign, namely ASEAN, China, India, the United Kingdom and Germany,” he said.
Dr Mahathir said the success of the Visit Malaysia 2020 campaign also depends largely on effective promotion.
The tourism sector needs to move in tandem with digital transformation emphasising digital marketing using various social media platforms if the industry is to remain competitive, he said.
Dr Mahathir said Malaysians have to realise that the success of the campaign would benefit everyone as spillovers from the tourist industry spread to all walks and manners of other businesses and industries.
“I am indeed pleased when informed that this national project saw the participation of various levels and sectors, ministries, agencies, departments, non-governmental organisations, the private sector and tourism industry players themselves,” he said.
Dr Mahathir said the Visit Malaysia 2020 campaign focuses on ecotourism, arts and culture, befitting the National Ecotourism Plan 2016-2025 and the National Culture Policy which places ecotourism, arts and culture as the main focus and the path forward in the development of the tourism industry in Malaysia.
“Through this campaign, we will welcome visitors from all over the world to experience the uniqueness and beauty of Malaysia’s ecotourism attractions, including our rainforests, mountains, islands and beaches.
“At the same time, visitors will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in our diverse culture, arts, heritage and history,” he said, adding that it is in line with the campaign’s promotional theme, “Culture, Nature and its People”.
Dr Mahathir said Malaysia’s tourism industry has continued to grow from strength to strength and the tourism sector showed impressive performance recently.
For the first five months of this year, tourist arrivals recorded a growth of 4.8 per cent with 10.95 million tourist arrivals compared with 10.45 million tourist arrivals in the corresponding period last year, he said.
The first-quarter performance of this year also showed growth in tourism revenue which reached RM21.4 billion, a surge of 16.9 per cent compared to the same period the year before, he said.
Last year, some 25.8 million tourists visited Malaysia, and Malaysia secured 15th place among countries with the highest number of tourist arrivals, he said.
A total of 78.2 million domestic tourists were recorded in 2018 with a growth of 10.9 per cent from the previous year, while domestic tourism expenditure registered a growth of 11.7 per cent in 2018 with RM60.4 billion, he said.
Dr Mahathir said the number of employees engaged in the tourism industry has also increased, to 3.4 million in 2017 from 1.5 million in 2005, while the number of people employed in the tourism industry made up 23.2 per cent of the total labour force.
In 2017, the industry contributed 14.9 per cent to the national economy compared to 10.4 per cent in 2005, he said.
“Malaysia ranked No. 21 among countries with the highest tourism revenue, bringing in RM84.1 billion in tourism revenue in 2018 as stated in the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) in its Barometer Report published in May 2019,” he said.