‘Do more to harness potential in tourism’

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has not done enough to tap the vast potential of tourism related business opportunities, according to ACCCIM’s Malaysia’s Business and Economic Conditions Survey.

This was concurred by 78.2% of respondents, while 81% also acknowledged that Malaysia’s tourism is lagging behind its neighbours.

Throughout 2001-2008, tourist arrivals in Malaysia had grown by 4.2% per annum to 25.8 million persons, which was lower compared with Cambodia (14.7% per annum), Vietnam (11.8%), Laos (11.3%), Phillippines (8.4%), Thailand (8.2%), Indonesia (6.8%) and Singapore (5.4%).

The survey found that simplified visa rules, the rollout of e-visas or visa-exemption are crucial to facilitate and ease the entry of travellers and tourists as indicated by 52.7% of respondents. Front-services counters at airports must also be enhanced.

The preferred tourism products indicated by respondents are eco-tourism (78%), followed by culinary tourism (73.4%), cultural tourism (55.6%), recreational tourism (49.5%), agro-tourism (48.8%) and medical tourism (37.7%).

It is proposed that Malaysia organise an annual mega food fiesta in major states, as well as nationwide food hunting tours to drive Malaysia as a food haven.

Niche markets such as medical tourism, education tourism as well as meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions industry should be promoted as these are high quality tourism products.

To improve the country’s competitiveness in recapturing higher contribution from tourism, 68.3% of respondents opined that the government should further enhance the effectiveness of tourism promotion, marketing and branding.

It also proposed that a short and simplified course for part-time tour guides be conducted to handle tourists from China as there is a lack of tour guides, particularly Chinese speaking.

Respondents also opined that the Budget 2020 should roll out more tourism-related measures and provide more allocations to support tourism-related activities and development, in facilitating preparations for Visit Malaysia Year 2020.