Tourism provides a major economic development opportunity for many countries and a means of improving the livelihoods of its residents. Both the public and private sectors involved in tourism depend on planning to achieve sustainable tourism development that respects the local community, creates appropriate employment, maintains the natural environment, and delivers a quality visitor experience. Tourism destinations that pursue development without proper planning would face several negative impacts upon the community and host region, such as the erosion of the region’s cultural identity as well as the destruction of landscapes. Malaysia is situated in Southeast Asia and consists of 13 states and 3 federal territories, separated by the South China Sea. 11 of Malaysia’s states are located in Peninsular Malaysia and 2 in east Malaysia, situated on the island of Borneo. The capital city of Malaysia is Kuala Lumpur, while Putrajaya is the seat of the federal government and Iskandar is known as the administrative center.
Tourism is Malaysia’s second largest foreign exchange earner, with a total number of 1,817,061 tourist arrivals in January 2012 alone and 9,438,592 in the following five months, nearly a hundred thousand more than in the first five months of 2011. Malaysia’s Minister of Tourism, Dato’ Seri Dr. Ng Yen Yen has stated that total receipts from tourism in this period was RM 21.8 billion and according to the National Key Economic Area annual report in 2011, the tourism industry is projected to provide and incremental contribution of RM 66.7 billion to the country’s National Gross Income. All these show the very rapid growth of Malaysia’s tourism sector.
Moreover, the tourism industry in Malaysia has also been noted to have provided a number of 1.2 million jobs in the country, helping boost the economic and socio-economic development of Malaysia; whether directly or indirectly, tourism has helped generate employment in industries such as agriculture, handicraft, hotel, transport and arts and culture, while simultaneously conserving aspects of history, culture, heritage and environment of the country.
Malaysia’s attractiveness as a tourist destination can be largely contributed by the fact that, in line with its international tagline ‘Malaysia, Truly Asia’, it is a colourful hotpot of cultural diversity. Malaysia’s community consists of not only Malays, Chinese and Indians, but also a number of ethnic people such as the Kadazandusun and Iban in Sabah and Sarawak, as well as the Selatar clan in Johor. With its multi-cultural heritage and ‘exotic’ traditions, food and festivals, many tourists are drawn to visit the country every year. In addition, Malaysia also has the advantage of having a warm, tropical climate all year long, something which many Western travellers look forward to enjoying, as well as having the advantage of being free of major natural disasters such as volcanoes or earthquakes.
Malaysia is also proud to have UNESCO-listed World Heritage Sites to its name, primarily the Gunung Mulu Geo-Park in Sarawak, and the historical sites of Malacca, with Mulu attracting 15000 tourists annually while Malacca welcomed more than four million between January and April this year.
Recently, it has been revealed that the tourism industry was allocated an RM358 million under Budget 2013 in conjunction with Visit Malaysia Year 2013/2014, in order to reach a target of 26.8 million arrivals for the coming year. The Government will also review domestic policies and regulations regarding foreign equity restrictions and limits on employment of foreign talent, as well as rules governing recognition of international qualifications, requirements for commercial presence, composition of board of directors, and residency for expatriates in order to assist in liberalising the services sector to reach its full potential in Malaysia....