MALAYSIA’S tourism industry performed above expectations in 2013, registering good growth in both tourism receipts and arrivals despite a challenging year.
Tourist receipts of RM65.4 billion (US$19.9 billion) exceeded the initial target of RM65 billion, and grew 8.1 per cent from RM60.6 billion in 2012.
Tourist arrivals also grew 2.7 per cent to 25.7 million compared to 25 million in 2012.
Minister of Tourism and Culture Malaysia, Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz, said in a press release: “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 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 added that tourism was the sixth largest contributor to the economy, moving up one spot compared with 2012 and contributing RM51.5 billion to Gross National Income in 2013.
He also attributed the growth in arrivals and spending to the government’s focus on the initiatives under NKEA, including the promotion of Malaysia as a duty-free and affordable luxury shopping destination, as well as strategic public-private partnerships.
The ASEAN market remains the largest contributor with 19.1 million arrivals, representing a 74.3 per cent share of overall arrivals. The medium-haul market was the second-largest market with 4.9 million arrivals, followed by the longhaul, with 1.7 million arrivals.
The top 10 source markets were Singapore, Indonesia, China, Brunei, Thailand, India, the Philippines, Australia, Japan and the UK.
Markets showing double-digit growth in arrivals were mainly from the medium-haul and longhaul countries with Turkish arrivals surging 28.9 per cent, assisted by the seven-weekly Istanbul-Kuala Lumpur flights by Malaysia Airlines and Turkish Airlines, as well as the re-opening of Tourism Malaysia Office in Istanbul.
Other markets showing strong growth included China (14.9 per cent), which benefited from AirAsia X’s new six-weekly Shanghai-Kuala Lumpur flights and seven-weekly Hangzhou-Kota Kinabalu flights.
Swedish arrivals rose 13.1 per cent on the back of strong promotional efforts there, in addition to thrice-weekly flights from Stockholm to Istanbul and Kuala Lumpur by Turkish Airlines from April 2013, as well as seven-weekly flights by Emirates from Stockholm to Dubai and Kuala Lumpur from last September.
Double-digit growth was also recorded for 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).
However, last year’s arrivals from Iran dropped significantly by 38.5 per cent, due partly to AirAsia X’s suspension of its services to Tehran in October 2012, while Thailand’s political woes throughout 2013 caused arrivals from the country to drop 8.4 per cent.