Travel Sector Will Have To Make Do With What Was Announced In Budget 2017

KUALA LUMPUR, 24 October 2016: Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) inbound vice president Datuk Tan Kok Liang welcomes the government’s allocation of RM400 million for clean air and ecotourism initiatives.

In tabling Budget 2017, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak acknowledged the tourism sector has contributed significantly to the country's economy. The government is targeting 32 million visitors for next year, which is expected to generate RM120 billion in tourism receipts.

Tan said "Capitalizing on our clean air and promoting activities like walking or trekking tours will attract tourists from countries with high pollution index, such as China and India. These two Asian giants are also the biggest contributors of visitor arrivals to Malaysia, excluding our ASEAN neighbours.”

"We should repackage and rebrand our tours so that tourists can enjoy our clean air when engaging in outdoor activities. Jungle and mountain resorts such as Taman Negara and Kinabalu National Park, together with many of our clean cities and towns throughout the country, will benefit from these initiatives and ought to be heavily promoted.”

“Tourists from Europe had always been attracted to Malaysia because of ecotourism, and stepping up promotions will ensure their large numbers are sustained or even increased. Indeed, Malaysia is blessed with the two greatest tourism resources any country can have, and they are our people and natural environment.”

“Our multi-racial, multilingual, multicultural and multireligious society together with our jungle-clad mountains and warm sandy beaches are huge attractions, not just people from cold countries but also from ASEAN countries, which may be a surprise for the uninitiated. In fact, attracting visitors within ASEAN is the most cost effective, and should be given emphasis given the limited budget.”

“The budget allocation of RM323million for personnel deployment to enhance effectiveness of security in Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCOM) is timely and assuring. Creating another naval base at sea off the east coast of Sabah waters would deter kidnappings.”

“Safety and security have always been the main concerns for tourists to Sabah. Swift implementation of security measures will auger well for tourism and economic activities in the east coast of Sabah. When government forces are in full control of Sabah’s waters and shoreline, confidence will be restored and negative travel advisories lifted.”

“Sadly, the wishes of tourism industry were not granted in Budget 2017 due to financial constraints. As such, industry players will have to be resilient and tap existing resources to meet the challenges ahead. Promotional and marketing funds, including for e-commerce marketing, and facilitating the import of luxury tour vehicles will have to wait for Budget 2018”, concluded Tan.