Tourist arrivals increase 4.9% in 1H19

The growth is backed by the increase in flight connectivity and the continuous promotions with strategic partners and industry players, says MATTA president


MALAYSIA saw a growth of tourist arrivals in the first half of 2019 (1H19) compared to the same period last year, with an increase of 4.9% to 13.4 million tourists.

Based on Tourism Malaysia’s latest performance report, the country saw fewer tourist arrivals in the 1H18, which was a drop of 1.7% to 12.7 million.

Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) president Datuk Tan Kok Liang said the growth was backed by the increase in flight connectivity and the continuous promotions with strategic partners and industry players.

“The increase of foreign tourist arrivals for the (1H19) is a positive sign. The capacity to accommodate more tourists and the extension of electronic travel registration and information (eNTRI) for China and India markets are key factors for the 4.9% growth.

“If these figures are doubled, total arrivals for the year will be at 26.7 million. This means we are climbing back to the 26.8 million achieved in 2016, which has dropped in both 2017 and 2018,” he told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) recently.

Based on the January through June 2019 figures, arrivals from Saudi Arabia (17.3%), Indonesia (15%) Thailand (4.2%) and Singapore (3.6%) recorded a sturdy growth.

“Malaysia was receiving fewer tourists from Saudi Arabia previously, but the percentage has gone up now with the help of air access and seats availability.

“I think we should roll out the red carpet for any new carrier, route or additional frequency to Malaysia.

“Decisions to visit a holiday destination can be made within seconds, starting with flight availability and switching to the next best option within minutes,” Tan said.

Despite the growth, main markets like Brunei (-12.0%) and Taiwan (-2.8%) recorded negative trends together with several markets from Europe in the 1H19.

Tan said the decrease in arrivals among Bruneians may be due to policy changes like vehicle permit requirement to cross the border by Malaysia and the Customs cross-border regulations.

“Although Brunei’s population is small, at 421,000, the sultanate ranks fifth in number of visitors to Malaysia with the majority travelling to neighbouring Sarawak and Sabah, many on repeat visits.

“To increase arrivals, Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang are being promoted for Bruneians to discover and enjoy new holiday destinations.

“While for Europe and Taiwan, the economy is not doing that great which affected the outbound travel,” he added.

Meanwhile, Malaysian Tourist Guides Council president Jimmy Leong said the growth in 1H19 could be due to the focused marketing strategies undertaken by Tourism Malaysia.

“The diversion of tourists away from riot infested Hong Kong to other Asean destinations perhaps has added to the increase of tourist arrivals into Malaysia.

“However, there will be quite an uncertainty over tourism arrival performances in the next few months because of the US-China economic war.

“Long-haul travellers might decrease, growing the number for short-haul vacations, which can be beneficial for us,” he told TMR recently.

Forecasting the 2H19, Tan said it is usually more robust than the 1H.

“We should be getting much more than the 13 million arrivals in the 1H. If 14 million were to arrive in the 2H, then we would achieve the 28.1 million target for the year.

“This is possible as Visit Malaysia 2020 promotions have an effect on visitor arrivals this year,” he said.

In tandem with the uptrend of arrivals, Malaysia has also registered growth of tourist expenditure, which is an increase of 6.8% to RM41.7 billion in 1H19.

It was stated in the report that traditional markets like Singapore, China and Indonesia have been mainly contributing to the growth in tourist expenditure.