Malaysia's tourism industry and the Tourism Minister

Above: Source:

Receipts from tourism have grown 21% from 2006 to 2007 (RM36 billion to RM 46 billion in 2007) and with the total number of tourist arrivals of 17.55 million and 20.97 million in 2006 and 2007 respectively this makes the average receipt per tourist to be RM2,066 in 2006 and RM2,198 in 2007. This makes it a growth in tourist receipt of 6% from 2006 to 2007. That is not a lot, if you take away the Malaysia's inflationary impact from this growth rate. Eventhough the receipts have increased by RM10 billion in 2007, and the tourist arrivals increased 16% in 2007, tourists on the average are not spending a lot more- the increase in average spending per tourist has increased only by 6%.

In terms of hotel guests by locality, the Pakatan Rakyat states hold about 50% of local and foreign tourists in terms of hotel rooms nights. This is based on historical facts published by Tourism Malaysia which I pieced together. The breakdown is as follows:

Kuala Lumpur 16%
Selangor 7%
Penang 8%
Langkawi Island 6%
East Coast 5%
Ipoh 4%
Alor Star & Sg Petani 4%
Total 50%

With the PR states commanding 50% of the hotel room nights it makes sense for Azalina the Tourism Minister to withdraw the tourism MOUs with those states right after she was appointed Minister. However, this kind of hostility is not acceptable. Take a look at Tourism Malaysia's official charter:

To develop Malaysia into a leading tourism nation
To implement the National Tourism Policy towards making the tourism industry the nation's main source of income for the socio-economic development of the country
To turn the tourism industry into a major, sustainable, viable and quality sector which contributes to the socio-economic development of the country
To develop a sustainable tourism industry in order to generate a major source of income for the country
To promote the tourism sector professionally, efficiently and continuously to meet the needs and preferences of foreign and local tourists
To strengthen and upgrade a quality service delivery system in order to ensure tourist satisfaction
To formulate the national tourism policy to achieve the Ministry’s vision, mission and objectives
To implement policies pertaining to the progress and development of the tourism industry
To co-ordinate, monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of tourism programmes and projects
To provide quality and timely Tourism Delivery services
To provide quality tourism activities/programmes to promote participation and appreciation of the tourism industry
To provide superior and viable tourism infrastructure throughout the country
To enforce and implement the provisions of the Tourism Industry Act and the Tourism Vehicle Licensing Act including the regulations there-under, efficiently and effectively
To promote the country as a leading local and international tourist destination
What hogwash. Not even a single point of the above is implemented nor are we near anywhere near of being a tourism hub. No need to go far on - even in Asia, Malaysia is not the leading destination and it won't be, compared to Bangkok and Hong Kong... or even Singapore. In Hong Kong, the shopping malls in Causeway Bay are busy drawing crowds way after 11pm during weekdays. In Malaysia, the shopping places close by 10pm weekdays. There are no religion issues in other countries, but in Malaysia you randomly get raided and accused for khalwat. Look at the forum response here. It does not matter you a re Muslim or non-Muslim, married or single- you still get whacked by the Religious Department if you happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. The tourism infrastructure is horrible- I guarantee you that the guy manning the tourism booth at Jalan Sultan Ismail- Jalan P. Ramlee intersection (right at the corner of Shangri-la hotel) is always at lunch break during lunch time. It's ok if you are a factory guy but a no-no if you are absent from your station in the tourism industry. Other issues are:

- not enough direct flights from Europe and major Asian cities into places such as Langkawi, Labuan and the East Coast of Malaysia. Most of these flights are to the KLIA and it takes the average foreign tourist a hour more by flight and 6 hours more by road to get to say, Langkawi from KLIA. Travel expenses increase as well.
-cabbies in Malaysia charge high fares.
-the Islam factor- room raids, bar raids, terrorism (dunno why there's this scare)
-cleanliness factor- dirty toilets, roads etc.
-lousy handicap facilities
-high crime-rate (yikes- even the citizens are terrified of this!!!)

Left: Sunset at Causeway Bay, Hong Kong.

In Malaysia if you are in the hotel industry you get penalized if the Federal Govt wins (not the other way around)- as in the case of the terminated MOUs. Its even worse if you are in a city hotel doing Government business- the 9th June 2008 RM2 billion fiscal cut on Government entertainment did more harm than good. Anyone with simple understanding of economics know that the economic pie is fixed, all segments in the economy are relative to one another. For those new to economics jargon a fiscal policy is something of a policy or act which the government aims to influence the economy with, i.e. taxes, reduction in spending, etc. Government spending is still major fuel to the various economic sectors in Malaysia- the RM2 billion entertainment cut was actually an exchange for a RM2 billion reduction in revenue for the retail and hotel sector. Any economics student would have know this, but not the experts at Putrajaya, wtf... but the Tourism Minister was pretty silent when this cut was announced in June 2008.

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