Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said today tourist arrivals remained high, averaging two million per month, despite the weak global economic environment and the outbreak of the Influenza A (H1N1) pandemic.
Najib, who is also the finance minister, said that as at August this year, the tourist arrivals increased 4.4 per cent to 15.4 million compared with 14.7 million during the same period last year.
"To further intensify the tourism industry, the government will allocate a total of RM899 million in 2010," he said when tabling Budget 2010 in the Dewan Rakyat.
Najib said that among the main programmes to be implemented were to attract more participants from Britain, Japan, South Korea, the Middle East, India and China to participate in the "Malaysia My Second Home" (MM2H) programme.
Another was to upgrade the quality of infrastructure in tourism centres throughout the country, such as ecotourism development and upgrading of homestay facilities, he said.
Najib said efforts would be made to ensure that front liners in the tourism sector were locals and, in this regard, the service of foreign workers employed as front liners would be terminated in stages.
He said the government would utilise Internet-based advertising to promote tourism activities and would provide more attractive tourism products and events, including the KL Grand Prix Fest, National Water Festival, Rain Forest EcoChallenges and Malaysia International Golf Exhibition as well as launch a large-scale shopping mall for branded items based on the factory outlet concept.
"The tourism industry has the potential to be further developed, given its high value added, including ecotourism, edutourism and health tourism," he said.
He said that to further promote the medical tourism industry, the government would enhance tax incentives for healthcare service providers who offer services to foreign health tourists.
"Income tax exemption of 50 per cent on the value of increased exports will be increased to 100 per cent. This enables healthcare service providers to offer high quality health services and attract more health tourists," he said.
The prime minister also said that to strengthen information communication technology (ICT) the government would expedite the implementation of High Speed Broadband at a total cost of RM11.3 billion, of which RM2.4 billion was from the government and RM8.9 billion from Telekom Malaysia.
"Initially, broadband services with the speed of 10 mega bytes per second (Mbps) will be provided in selected areas in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor by end-March 2010.
"Subsequently, these services will be extended to other selected areas nationwide between 2010 and 2012," he said.
Najib said current broadband penetration was 25 per cent and that in order to attain developed nation status, computer ownership and broadband penetration should be enhanced.
He said that to further enhance broadband penetration, the government proposed that individual taxpayers be given tax relief on broadband subscription fee up to RM500 a year from 2010 to 2012.
The prime minister also said that to encourage computer ownership, civil servants would be allowed to apply for computer loans once in every three years compared to one in every five years now, and the with the quantum of the loans at a maximum of RM5,000.
Najib also announced measures to further advance the "halal" industry, such as:
- to formulate the Halal Act in collaboration with the state Islamic Affairs Department, which will be the basis for the development, regulation and enforcement of "halal" industry activities.
- to corporatise the Halal Industry Development Corporation (HDC) as an agency under the Ministry of International Trade and Industry. The agency will prepare and implement an action plan for the development of the "halal" industry.
- intensify Halal Certification by the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim) by collaborating with international institutions to obtain standards certification, such as Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point and Good Manufacturing Practice. This will enable Jakim "halal" certificates to be internationally recognised.
- developing the "halal" products anti-smuggling system at three entry points and three main ports to facilitate agencies, such as the customs department, veterinary services department and Jakim to prevent smuggling activities as well as reduce the risk of pandemic diseases, for which RM24 million will be provided.
Source : Bernama
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