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KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 20 (Bernama) — The Tourism sector, being the third biggest contributor to the country’s economy after manufacturing and palm oil, offers vast employment opportunities.
The Tourism industry not only promotes those involved in the sector but compliment the service industry to generate business opportunities and further boost the country’s economy as well as enhance people-to-people relations.
According to the Tourism Malaysia statistics, revenue generated from 24.6 million tourist arrivals in 2010 was RM56.5 billion but the figure increased to RM58.3 billion through 24.7 million tourist arrivals last year.
The domestic tourism industry has also seen a positive increase as revenue for last increased to 42.3 billion compared with RM34.7 billion in 2010.
Malaysia has also recently earned recognition from the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) as the ninth most visited country in the world from 2009 to 2011, and ranked 14th in terms of revenue earned from the tourism sector.
This year Malaysia has targeted 25 million tourist arrivals and a projected revenue of RM60 billion.
During the 2013 Budget tabled by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak on Sept 28, he also announced 2013/2014 as Visit Malaysia Year to attract 26.8 million tourists.
The government also announced a three-year tax exemption incentive for tourism and travel agents who provide services and handle up to 750 foreign tourists or 1,500 domestic tourists.
The focus of the government is to enhance the country’s position as a leading foreign tourist destination, while promoting domestic tourism.
Opportunities abound for entrepreneurs, business owners and investors who support the government’s direction.
The Dean of Universiti Teknologi MARA’s (UiTM) Faculty of Hotel and Tourism Management Prof Madya Dr Mohamad Abdullah Hemdi views the initiatives as a boost to the tourism sector and those involved in the industry.
In order to ensure the government’s target of 26.8 million tourist arrivals was achieved, he urged entrepreneurs involved in the industry to grab the opportunities to offer luxurious holiday packages to increase their revenue.
“For Visit Malaysia Year 2013/2014, the concept of providing luxury villas at top resort destinations as an alternative to hotel accommodation as well as an investment portfolio must be adopted.
“To ensure tourists enjoy their stay here, a variety of tourism products is important, like providing services for tourists to visit Malaysia using helicopters of private jets or even luxury yachts,” he told Bernama.
Mohamad Abdullah said initiatives like promoting the unique flora and Fiona found in the tropical forests of Malaysia, cycling around national parks in the country must also be packaged and offered to tourists.
Malaysia, a country blessed with rich natural environment and exotic islands has not taken full advantage of the growing demand for luxury retreat villas like Bali in Indonesia and Thailand.
Moving forward, the long-term prospect for Malaysian tourism remains bullish and hospitality developers should take advantage of the surge in demand for private luxury villas, be it for investment purpose or holiday destination.
Recently the country welcomed the opening of an international theme park, LEGOLAND in Johor, which is the first in Asia and one of only six in the world.
The state of Johor is also scheduled to launch a few other theme parks this year such as Hello Kitty Town, Little Big Club and Lat themed attraction in Puteri Harbour, while 2014 will see the opening of Ocean Quest and Ocean Splash water parks in Desaru.
Mohamad Abdullah said in efforts to promote tourism and provide human capital for the industry, UiTM offers various courses in various fields related to the tourism industry, adding that 7,746 students were currently pursuing their higher education in their respective fields.
“In UiTM, we have training for those involved in the tourism industry like the homestay programme through collaboration with the Malaysian Association of Tour & Travel Agents (MATTA) to enhance their knowledge of tourism products.
Meanwhile, Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) Tourism Unit head Norazah Yusof said many luxury hotels have mushroomed in the city to cater for the high demand for luxurious holiday packages.
Norazah said the City Hall continuously organise programmes and events to promote the tourism industry, especially in Kuala Lumpur, by offering tourism in the fields of medical, education and hospitality.
She added that since tourists want to experience ‘on ground experience’ food festivals, culture and traditional programmes that showcase Malaysian culture are organised for them to participate.
By Erda Khursyiah Basir
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