Minister of Tourism, Malaysia

In conjunction with the




Prince Hotel & Residence, Kuala Lumpur – 8.45 am – 25 Sept 2008



Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim

Distinguished Speakers, Moderators, Panelists and Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen


ASLI has organised exceptional conferences for the past decade, and no doubt this National Tourism Forum 2008, I anticipate will mark a milestone in progress of Malaysia’s tourism dynamism. I therefore like to thank ASLI and ASLI’s Chief Executive Officer, Dato’ Michael Yeoh, for inviting me to present today’s key address, titled “Tourism in Malaysia – The Evolution and Implication of Tourism Dynamics.”


What is intriguing about this theme is the choice of words, notably the four words used “Evolution”, “Implications”, “Tourism” and “Dynamic”, which I believe bring to mind the responsibility to take correct action characterized by the continuous change in progress of this industry,.


Ladies and Gentlemen


Tourism is and has been the world’s fastest growing industries driving the growth of many economic sectors.


In Malaysia, Tourism has emerged to be the second largest revenue earners. It is the backbone of enormous businesses and employment opportunities for Malaysians.


It is commendable to note we have made great progress in maintaining sustainable growth of the industry and how we can achieve more wealth for our nation. Tourist arrivals to Malaysia have been growing steadily over the past 10 years, reaching a high of 20.9 million tourists in 2007, which brought in just over RM46 billion in tourism receipts.


In comparison, 2006 had recorded 17.5 million tourist arrivals, with RM36.3 billion in tourism receipts.


This means that tourist arrivals in 2007 saw a jump of about 20% – a positive indication of how successful Visit Malaysia Year 2007 campaign was.


As for 2008, Malaysia has hosted about 14.7 million tourists just in the month of August. The Ministry of Tourism and Tourism Malaysia are working hard to achieve a target of 22.5 million by the end of this year.


By 2010, the number of tourist arrivals is expected to reach 25.7 million which in turn, is estimated to generate receipts totalling RM59.4 billion and provide about 520,700 jobs to the industry. 


God willing, with the continuance of encouraging performance, the tourism sector is poised to remain one of the key drivers of the country’s economy.


Ladies and Gentlemen


I am sure you are already aware of the various aspects of on-going evolution in our industry at this moment in time. Some are adverse effect of external factors impacting the industry, whilst others are simply trends that arise out of travellers’ changing preferences and demands.


Regardless of their nature, these evolutions will nevertheless bring about implications to the industry. We have to be prudently ready to adapt and strategically plan our next course of actions in order to catch the next wave of development to bring tourism in Malaysia to new heights.


Ladies and Gentlemen


An annual report by the World Travel and Tourism Council showcased the top 10 countries expecting the most rapid growth in tourism and travel for the coming decade (2007-2017). Topping the list is China, with an expected 9.1% annualised growth in demand. Other Asian countries on this list are India at 3rd place (7.9%), Vietnam at 6th (7.5%) and Hong Kong at 9th (7%).

Although not quoted in the top 10, two other emerging Asian destinations that are fast gaining grounds are Laos and Cambodia. With the emergence of these newer and perceivably more exotic destinations that are also competing for a piece of the pie, it is time for Malaysia to play a more proactive role!


In 2007, tourist arrivals in Malaysia made up 11.3% of the total tourist arrivals in Asia Pacific. Moving forward, how would the rise of these new destinations implicate Malaysia? Are we to compete for a piece of the same pie or shall we look at regional cooperation that can potentially yield better outcome for all?


Hence, in taking three steps forward in the evolutionary journey, it is empirical that we also take a step back and examine this from a different perspective that is to brand and market our destination as complementary rather than be competing products, thus avoiding such matters of product cannibalism. I am pleased to say that there are several of these planned partnerships initiated and are on-going efforts by my Ministry; and I also like to take this opportunity to encourage the various industry key players to get involve and contribute to this endeavour.


One notable project would be the Visit IMT-GT (Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand-Growth Triangle) 2008 year, which has received tremendous support from the airlines industry from participating countries. Carriers have proposed starting new routes as well as offering attractive discounts to destination within the growth triangle.


In less than 2 decades, the proliferation of internet has almost reshaped the way we do business, and the tourism industry is no exception. The internet has level the playing field so the power of information flow no longer belongs to only the media, or the large players, but to each and every one of us. By a click of the button, we are able to get a wealth of information and value travel deals.


As a result, we see a rise in independent travellers who prefer to do their research and book their own travel itinerary. We see sophisticated informed travellers who prefer unique and customised travel experience rather than off-the shelf holiday package.


What this means for us is that we need to change our mindset and the way we used to market and brand Malaysia. We have to move away from traditional marketing activities to become more interactive, stimulating and engaging. Gone are the days where one size fits all!


Ladies and Gentlemen


I like to close this address by reiterating the importance of the tourism industry in the culturally rich landscape of the Malaysia economy.


For 2008, the Government has allocated a whopping RM85 million in its budget to enhance the country’s attractions, diversify the tourism products as well as upgrade tourism facilities. Meanwhile, the recently announced Budget 2009, places the Tourism industry as a sector with opportunities for growth despite an expected moderation in global econonomies.


It is timely this National Tourism Forum should serve as a meeting of minds and I therefore encourage all of you to further discuss on the on-coming challenges and prospects you foresee in the Tourism industry. So, maintain an open channel to articulate your issues with the objective of solution seeking. And if perchance those solutions can be applied in your business practices to improve our industry, then I believe we have achieved some of the objectives set for this national forum.


On that note, ladies and gentlemen, I wish you all a successful forum ahead.



Thank you.


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