by NG MIN SHEN/ pic by BERNAMA
THE federal government is proposing an additional allocation for the Visit Malaysia Year 2020 (VMY2020) campaign, said Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng.
In line with the government’s target of increasing tourist arrivals next year, vendors and businesses in the tourism sector across the country, especially in Sabah, are encouraged to “send in good proposals” through channels such as the Ministry of Finance focus group sessions and its portal, Portal Belanjawan 2020.
“Shared prosperity can only be achieved through our shared responsibility to improve the national economy generally and tourism specifically,” Lim said in his opening remarks at the Focus Group Session On Promoting Tourism And Other Strategic Areas in Sabah, in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.
The “shared prosperity” agenda, as emphasised by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, aspires to see all Malaysians collectively enjoying a better and more comfortable standard of living through economic growth that is both sustainable and inclusive, come 2030.
Lim added that the government places importance on a joint-venture approach, hence its provision of RM100 million under Budget 2019 for matching grants for international marketing and promotional programmes.
The administration is targeting to record 30 million tourist arrivals in 2020, which has been earmarked as Visit Malaysia Year.
“I am confident that Sabah will contribute to achieving the growth in tourist numbers,” Lim said.
According to data from Tourism Malaysia, the country recorded 25.8 million international tourist arrivals in 2018 and 13.3 million in the first half of 2019.
In Sabah alone, it is estimated 155,000 people work in the tourism sector. Kota Kinabalu is also “consistently lauded” by international agencies as the most attractive destination worldwide for retirement, Lim noted.
Under Budget 2019, 50% of tourism tax proceeds will be returned to state governments for their respective states to support efforts to grow tourist activity.
As of March 2019, out of the RM67.7 million which was distributed to all state governments, Sabah received the highest amount at RM12.7 million.
“This sharing of proceeds will continue with the aim of contributing to the upkeep of tourist facilities,” Lim said.
For other strategic sectors, the minister said as much as RM172.38 billion worth of investments has been approved since the incorporation of the Sabah Economic Development and Investment Authority in 2008.
“Of that amount, RM83.23 billion has been realised as of this year and the second quarter of 2019 alone. The government expects this figure to rise further until the end of the year.
“Sabah and Sarawak will continue receiving the biggest allocation in Budget 2020, the same as in Budget 2019,” he said.