: Malaysia’s tourism industry performed above expectations in 2013, with tourist receipts of RM65.44 billion exceeding the initial target of RM65 billion.
Tourism minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz said the 8.1 per cent growth from RM60.56 billion in 2012, represents an expansion of about RM4.89 billion in foreign exchange earnings.
He said tourist arrivals also grew by 2.7 per cent to 25.7 million arrivals compared to 25.0 million arrivals in 2012 despite a challenging year.
“We are pleased to achieve such a substantial growth in tourist receipts last year. This is in line with the broad objectives of the National Key Economic Areas (NKEA) and Malaysia Tourism Transformation Plan (MTTP) to increase yield per tourist.
"Last year, the average tourist spending per capita was RM2,544.90 per person compared to RM2,419.10 per person in 2012,” he said.
He added that tourism was the sixth largest contributor to the economy moving up one spot compared to 2012. It contributed RM51.5 billion to Gross National Income (GNI) in 2013.
He attributed the growth in tourist arrivals and spending to the Government’s focus on the initiatives under NKEA Tourism including the promotion of Malaysia as a duty-free and affordable luxury shopping destination, as well as the concerted efforts through the strategic public-private partnership to position and brand Malaysia as the top-of-mind destination for business and leisure.
The ASEAN market remains the largest contributor with 19.1 million arrivals, representing a 74.3 per cent share of the overall tourist arrivals to Malaysia. The medium-haul market was the second largest market with 4.9 million arrivals followed by the long-haul market with 1.7 million arrivals.
The top ten tourist generating markets from January to December 2013 were Singapore (13,178,774), Indonesia (2,548,021), China (1,791,432), Brunei (1,238,871), Thailand (1,156,452), India (650,989), the Philippines (557,147), Australia (526,342), Japan (513,076) and the United Kingdom (413,472).
Markets showing double digit growth in arrivals were mainly from the medium and long-haul countries with Turkish arrivals surging by 28.9 per cent assisted by the seven weekly direct flights from Istanbul to Kuala Lumpur by Malaysia Airlines and Turkish Airlines, as well as the re-opening of Tourism Malaysia Office in Istanbul.
Other markets showing strong growth include China (14.9 per cent) which benefited from the new six weekly direct AirAsia X flights from Shanghai to Kuala Lumpur and another seven weekly direct AirAsia X flights from Hangzhou to Kota Kinabalu.
Swedish tourist arrivals saw an increase of 13.1 per cent on the back of strong promotional efforts there, in addition to the thrice weekly flights from Stockholm to Istanbul and Kuala Lumpur by Turkish Airlines beginning April 2013, as well as the seven weekly Emirates flights from Stockholm to Dubai and Kuala Lumpur, which started last September.
Double digit growth arrivals were also recorded for the following markets: Bangladesh (55.7 per cent), Cambodia (28.6 per cent), Iraq (27 per cent), Egypt (25.3 per cent), Russia (18.8 per cent), Taiwan (18 per cent), Ireland (13 per cent), Vietnam (11.7 per cent), Norway (11.6 per cent), and Spain (10.9 per cent).
Last year, tourist arrivals from the Iranian market registered a significant drop of 38.5 per cent partly due to AirAsia X’s decision to suspend its services to Tehran beginning October 2012.
The ongoing political woes in Thailand throughout 2013 had also affected arrivals from the country, which showed a decline of 8.4 per cent.