Official Partner Country status at World’s Leading Travel Trade Show – a vital step towards achieving Visit Malaysia 2020 targets
With a total of 25.8 million international tourists arriving in Malaysia in 2018, ITB Berlin is set to be instrumental in boosting visitor numbers to this exotic, exciting and welcoming destination in line with the nation’s ambitious growth plans.
With the Visit Malaysia 2020 campaign in the works, Malaysia’s Ministry for Tourism and Culture is targeting arrival figures 30-million and tourist receipts of RM100bn (eds: 21.66bn) by 2020.
“I believe Malaysia’s cultural uniqueness is a big draw for the European market,” explained Mohamaddin Bin Haji Ketapi, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture for Malaysia, adding, “As you may know, Malaysia is a melting pot of cultures with influences from Malay, Chinese and Indian ethnicities, as well as from Europe, Arab and the Malay Archipelago. This has resulted in a mixed yet harmonious legacy that manifests itself in Malaysia’s architecture, clothing, language, cuisine and other aspects.”
“Malaysia’s breath-taking nature, its warm, welcoming multi-cultural peoples, and its exceptional, varied cuisine, have made it a ‘must’ as a destination in Southeast Asia”, said David Ruetz, head of ITB Berlin, adding, “Having Malaysia as our Official Partner Country this year will have enhanced ever-so- important cultural links and will engender more awareness and appreciation, both for us of their culture and traditions, and for them of ours.”
Meanwhile, Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary- General, World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), stated: “I wish to congratulate Malaysia on being ITB’s partner country for this year. Malaysia is a founding member of UNWTO and one of its most active members, involved at several levels of the Organization’s activities and governing bodies. Malaysia identified tourism as one of the forefront industries in its economy because of tourism’s great potential in job creation, socio-economic development as well as foreign income generation – tourism is currently the 2nd largest foreign exchange earner.”
Visitors to ITB Berlin had the opportunity to experience Malaysia’s architecture, local food and cultural performances. The country’s colourful national cultural troupe showcased an hour- long performance during the Opening Gala, reflecting the beauty and diversity of Malaysian culture and heritage.
ECONOMIC CONTRIBUTION OF TOURISM IN MALAYSIA
The number of employees involved in Malaysia’s tourism sector rose to 3.4 million in 2017 from 1.5 million in 2005. Employment in the tourism industry contributed 23.2% to total employment in 2017 (2005: 15%). Most of the jobs in the tourism industry were in the retail trade industry (33.7%) and food & beverage serving services (32.3%) respectively. Tourism is also important to Malaysia as it helps to empower the local community economically. Taking the Malaysia Homestay Programme as an example, it offers the local village-folk to take part in offering authentic homestay experiences to
tourists. In 2017, the revenue generated from the programme reached RM27.6 million (eds: 5.98m).
“The ‘Malaysia, Truly Asia’ tagline has worked wonders to position our destination’s diversity”, explains the Minister. “It gets the message across that Malaysia is a kaleidoscope of customs, religions, traditions, festivals, heritage, arts and crafts, and cuisines of Malays, Chinese, Indians, and various ethnic group that continues to fascinate visitors from all over the world.” This “Malaysia, Truly Asia” branding continues till today to position Malaysia’s uniqueness.
NEW DEVELOPMENTS UNDER WAY
Upcoming developments such as Desaru Coast in Johor, and Impression City Melaka, once completed, will bring renewed interest in Malaysia.
“We are seeing the industry invigorated by the opening of renowned hotel property brands here,” explains the Minister, adding, “Several established hotel brands have ventured into Malaysia for the first time recently, while some of them are poised to enter the market in the near future. We are pleased that brands such as Double Tree, Hilton, Marriot, Anantara, Westin, Mercure, Sheraton, W, St. Regis, Four Seasons, Hyatt and others see the value of Malaysia for their business expansion and investments”.
Photo: H. E. Datuk Mohamaddin Bin Haji Ketapi, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Malaysia