Sunday, August 9

Malaysia projected to attract 23.5 mln tourists in 2009

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PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia is projected to attract 23.5 million tourists in 2009, generating about RM51 billion in tourism receipts despite lower projection in international tourist arrivals worldwide for the year.

“Last year was indeed a challenging year for many countries,” said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak in his speech at the Malaysia Tourism Awards 2008/2009 at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre, here last night.

The text of his speech was read by Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin. Najib had cited The World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), which forecasted a five per cent decline in international tourist arrivals worldwide for the full year 2009 compared to 2008.

“However, Malaysia has shown its resilience in facing such odds by actually recording growth in tourist arrivals,” he said.

In fact, the targeted 19 million international tourist arrivals forecasted for 2009 was well achieved by October, he added.

He noted that the country registered a mere 5.5 million tourist arrivals in 1998, contributing some RM8.5 billion in receipts.

“It seems the crisis has reinforced commitments for closer collaboration among industry players and spurred the tourism industry players to innovate and sustain tourism growth,” he said. — Bernama

“This remarkable performance in the face of adversity only demonstrates the fact that the tourism industry is capable of greater growth.

“With resilience, innovation, product quality and excellent service standards, the tourism industry, a part of the larger services sector, is seen to have a critical role in our journey towards making Malaysia a developed nation by the year 2020,” he added.

Najib, who is also the Finance Minister, reiterated that a total of RM899 million would be allocated to boost the tourism industry this year.

The government had also introduced the liberalisation of 27 service sub-sectors such as health, tourism and transport, he said.

“The government recognised the vital role of the tourism industry as the second largest foreign exchange earner to our economy,” said the Prime Minister.

At the function, former Tourism Minister Tan Sri Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir received the newly introduced Prime Minister’s Special Award while the president of the Malaysian Homestay Association, Sahariman Hamdan, received the Tourism Minister’s Award. — Bernama