-Mohd Director, Nawayai Zoo Park Yasak Melaka Malaysia
1. Historical Background
Until the 1970s, tourism was not regarded as an important economic activity in Malaysia. The Tourism Development Corporation of Malaysia (TDC) was set up in 1972, with the responsibility to act as a development authority, but the sector was given a low priority. Dut partly to limited financial allocations, TDC faced constraints in the effective performance of its catalytic role.
As a result, Malaysia remained a relatively unknown destination, while other countries in the region such asSingapore, Thailand and Indonesia built on their established reputations as mass tourism destinations. During the 1980s, tourism became an increasingly important industry worldwide. Investment in new facilities and capital equipment reached around $US 350 million per year, representing 7.3 per cent of total worldwide capital investments. Almost 6.5 per cent of the world's workforce were employed by the industry. Among the main reasons for this growth were increased personal income and leisure time, improvement in international transportation systems and greater public awareness of other parts of the world due to improved communications. These developments were felt by Malaysia as well as other countries. Recognizing that tourism can playa role in economic and social development, as well as in fostering national integration and unity, the Malaysian government undertook a series of positive initiatives to stimulate the development of the tourism sector. These included the following:
The government established the Ministry of Culture and Tourism (which became the Ministry of Culture, Arts and Tourism in 1990). This provided an institutional framework for the planning, coordination, and regulation of tourism, and for the first time tourism was accounted for within the framework of recognized economic activities; By virtue of the Tourism Industry Act of 1992 and the Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board Act of 1992, the new Ministry of Culture, Arts and Tourism took over from TOC the function of formulation and implementation of policies, licensing and enforcement aspects of the tourism industry. TOC thereafter became known as the Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board (or Tourism Malaysia for short), with a role concentrated on marketing and promotion; The Investment Incentives Act was revised in 1986 to include the tourism sector, thereby giving additional stimulus to tourism investment, such as the Pioneer Status Investment Tax Allowance, Industrial Building Allowances, and tax exemption for large foreign group tours; In 1990, the federal government set up a Ringgit Malaysia (RM) 120 million special fund for tourism to stimulate its development, including small and medium scale enterprise.
During the Fourth and Fifth Malaysia Plans (1981-1985 and 1986-1990) significant attention was given to the tourism sector, with increased public allocations for marketing and promotional activities, infrastructure and product development. Expenditure was RM 125.5 million under the Fourth Plan and RM 132.1 million under Fifth Plan. The Fifth Plan period culminated in Visit Malaysia Year 1990, which generated a high international profile for Malaysia and attracted 7.4 million tourists as well as revenues of RM 4.5 billion. Under the Sixth Malaysia Plan (1991-1995), the government therefore increased the public allocation for tourism development to RM 533.9 million. This allocation has been used to provide and expand the physical and social infrastructure, facilities and services required to support the future growth of the tourism sector. (See Table 1.) Visitors have come to Malaysia for many years to see wildlife, scenery, forests and beaches. The numbers are very difficult to assess, except at a few sites such as Taman Negara and Kinabalu Park. There,...