Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Malaysia has more Tourists than Thailand and Singapore

THE tourism industry has experienced rapid expansion and grown in importance over the last two decades.

Twenty years ago, the top performers in the tourist trade in the region were
Thailand and Singapore. Today, more people come to Malaysia than either of the
two countries.
Last year, we welcomed more than 17 million visitors and they spent more than RM37 billion. We are now the second-most visited Asian country after China, and tourism has become the country’s second largest foreign-exchange earner.

Much of the progress that has been made by the tourism industry can be traced to the decision to promote Malaysia as a tourist destination through the Visit Malaysia Year campaign in 1990.

We’ve always had all the ingredients of a desirable tourist destination, from the beautiful beaches to the mountain retreats, historic settlements to ancient rainforests, and exotic cuisine to fascinating festivals.

What we’ve lacked to become a big player in the tourist trade in the past was the push to sell the country as a value-for-money destination. This deficiency has been overcome with the VMY campaigns which have provided excellent opportunities to showcase all that the country has to offer. Set a modest target of over four million arrivals and RM2.5 billion in revenue, VMY 1990 surpassed all expectations by bringing in almost double the visitors and earnings, and spurred greater efforts at putting the country on the international tourist map.

What the second VMY in 1994 failed to achieve in terms of numbers was more than made up for in the more than RM8 billion it generated in tourist receipts.

The goal of attracting 20.1 million tourists and generating a revenue of RM44.5 billion makes the third and latest edition of VMY, launched on Saturday, the most ambitious tourism drive by the country.

Now that adequate attention has been given to marketing our attractions, every effort must be expended to make sure that visitors have the good time and the pleasant experience which would make them want to come back for more and to spread the good word.

All the hundreds of millions and all that effort to promote VMY 2007 will go to waste if immigration officers do not smile, shopkeepers fleece their customers, toilets stink to high heaven, or buses are not on time. No detail is too small, and every complaint should be attended to.

If Malaysians back up their smiles with excellent service, there is no reason why we cannot look forward to another bumper year for tourism.

Source : NST
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