Putting the shine back in Malaysia's tourism industry

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia's tourism industry is facing a challenging time with fewer tourists coming to the country for the past three years, but there's still a good chance of sunny skies ahead.

The latest figures from Tourism Malaysia's data portal (http://mytourismdata.tourism.gov.my/) show that tourist arrivals fell from 26.76 million in 2016 to 25.95 million in 2017, and then down again to 25.83 million last year.

The drop in 2018 compared to the year before was due mainly to a 14.6% reduction in arrivals from Singapore. There were 10.62 million Singaporeans who travelled to Malaysia last year, compared with 12.44 million in 2017.

Last year also saw concerns about tourist arrivals from China, with several news reports quoting tourism industry players claiming that there was a drop in arrivals from China.

However, Tourism Malaysia's figures show that the number of tourists from China to Malaysia actually grew in 2018 by 28.9%, from 2.28 million in 2017 to 2.94 million last year.

For Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) president Datuk Tan Kok Liang, the overall decline in tourist arrivals highlights an urgent need for action. "Malaysia needs to make a comeback," he said.

Tan said that since many Singaporeans prefer to drive to Malaysia, more Immigration and Customs lanes should be set up at the Johor Causeway and Second Link checkpoints to facilitate and speed up their entry.