MALAYSIAN TOURISM - ASSESSING ITS PERFORMANCE, IMPACT AND FUTURE




Introduction to Malaysian Tourism

Tourism, including Malaysian tourism, is a big industry worldwide and many countries have already cashed in on its potential.

This article seeks to assess the performance of tourism in Malaysia, its development, impacts and future. Implications for students will also be discussed.

Tourism success in any country begins from the priority placed on it by the government.

The Malaysian government through its Ministry of Tourism Malaysia (hereafter referred to as Tourism Malaysia) plans develops and oversees tourism policies, projects and other activities to realize its vision of making Malaysia an international tourism destination.

The activities of this agency are discussed in more details.


Overview of Malaysian Tourism

International tourist arrivals and international tourism receipts are the popular indicators used in measuring tourism performance.

According to the 2010 United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Report, Malaysia ranked 9th in international tourist arrivals, welcoming 24.6 million visitors through its doors.

This good performance represents a 3.9% increase over 2009 performance. Malaysia achieved a third place in the Asian region after China and Turkey respectively in the world’s top ten country lists of international tourist arrivals.

This performance was realized by the governments’ tourism training, incentives and promotional programs. Government incentives include tourism infrastructure fund and special tourism fund to support tourism-related development and projects.

Promotional programs include the popular ‘Malaysia my second home’, student tourism programs for secondary schools and education tourism among others.

Provision of tourism services according to MS ISO 9001:2000 by the Ministry is an indication of the ministry’s international quality benchmark.

The impact of these efforts resulted in international tourism receipt of
RM 56.5 billion in 2010. Therefore, in order to complement this achievement, the government is stepping up efforts in its plan to boost the tourism industry.

This was reflected in the 2011 budget where more tourism destinations in various parts of the country will be developed (some are already under construction as of writing), ban of import duties on certain tourism-related products, education promotions and part-funding of tourism related projects with the private sector.


Highlights of Tourim sites in Malaysia

The developmental efforts of the governments’ tourism agency resulting in the recognition of three attractions as world heritage sites by UNESCO are truly commendable. Theseattractions are:

1. Gunung Mulu National Park (Sarawak)

2. Kinabalu Park (Sabah)

3. Melaka and Georgetown, historic sites of the Straits of Malacca

Potential sites already submitted for inclusion by UNESCO includes:

1. Lanjak Entimau Wildlife Sanctuary (LEWS) and Ai national Park (BANP)

2. Prehistoric Archeological Heritage of Lenggong Valley

3. The Taman Negara National Park of Peninsular Malaysia

Consequently, increased tourism benefits other sectors such as increasing hotel development, training of tourism related courses in tertiary institutions, manufacturing, transportation and the aviation industry only to mention a few.


Future of Malaysian tourism and implications for students

As Malaysia inches closer to its vision of becoming a developed country by 2020, the race is on to ensure its tourism industry is not left behind.

Continued liberalization of some government controlled sectors, increased incentives, development of more tourism destinations where possible, increased involvement of the private sector are some of the key strides that will continue to improve Malaysia tourism performance into the future.

This has a huge implication for students especially students of Hospitality and Tourism management.

As populations increase in Malaysia and in the world and the Malaysian government makes its tourism industry more attractive, more skilled personnel will be required to manage the increasing government functions and private businesses resulting from it.

One key recommendation for the Malaysian government will be to factor in the projected skilled workforce and skill sets required to realize its future tourism ambitions while making plans for those skills and workforce today.

Students interested in the tourism industry will focus on developing additional skills sets more than a passing grade that will provide the distinction to ensure a place in the ever growing Malaysian tourism industry.


Conclusion

This article investigated Malaysian tourism in terms of its performance, impact, development, future and implications for students.

It was found that Malaysia ranks in the world’s top ten countries in international tourist arrivals, achieved recognition for three UNESCO world heritage sites, and has a coordinated promotion, incentive and program to propel its tourism industry into the future.

The implication for students especially student of the Hospitality and tourism industry werediscussed.

Finally, it was recommended that a holistic tourism plan must include the projected skill set and workforce required to manage the increasing tourism projects of the future.


References

Ministry of Tourism Malaysia (2011), Ministry programmes, Department of Tourism Malaysia, Malaysia.

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization World Heritage Center (2011), World heritage list, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization World Heritage Center.

United Nations World Tourism Organization n.d., Tourism highlights, United Nations World Tourism Organization, 2011 edition.


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