Malaysia Tourism

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Concurrent Session: Policy and Planning of Tourism Product Development in Asian Countries

POLICY AND PLANNING OF THE TOURISM INDUSTRY IN MALAYSIA ___________________________________________________________ Amran Hamzah Course Coordinator, Tourism Planning Programme Department of Urban and Regional Planning, Faculty of Built Environment Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Skudai, Johor MALAYSIA ABSTRACT Tourism is currently the second highest contributor to Malaysia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) after manufacturing. Despite its relatively late entrant as a ‘big time’ tourism player, the tourism industry in Malaysia has grown by leaps and bounds since the early 1990’s. This paper will, firstly, trace the development of the tourism industry in Malaysia viz-a-viz its performance, institutional framework and policy planning initiatives. Secondly, it will discuss Malaysia’s efforts, successes and failures in promoting regional cooperation in tourism. Thirdly, the role of budget airlines, development of thematic/transborder heritage trails and growth in youth tourism will be evaluated in the light of multi-destination visitation. Fourthly, a SWOT Analysis will be used to discus the potential of improving regional cooperation in tourism as an economic venture as well as a tool for Asian cohesion. Finally, a list of action plans will be recommended to provide a systematic mechanism for enhancing regional cooperation in the region.

INTRODUCTION Malaysia is a relatively new entrant into tourism in relation to its ASEAN neighbours. Serious efforts in developing and promoting tourism began only with the establishment of the Tourist Development Corporation Malaysia (TDCM) in 1972 and it took another 15 years before a specific ministry, the Ministry of Arts, Culture and Tourism (MOCAT) was set up in 1987. In April 2004, MOCAT was split to facilitate the establishment of a separate ministry responsible solely for matters related to tourism i.e. the Ministry of Tourism (MOT). This latest development reflects the government’s seriousness in promoting tourism as the second major income earner for the country after manufacturing. Prior to the Visit Malaysia Year (VMY) campaign in 1990, Malaysia was frequently marketed as only an element of a wider ‘tourist circuit’, including the neighbouring countries of Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia (King, 1993:107). At that time, Malaysia’s share of the Far Eastern Asia-Pacific tourism market was only in the region of 10% to 13%. Although the market share increased to 17.6% during the campaign year of 1990, it fell again to around 13% in 1991 (MOCAT, undated). In those days, many tourists spent only a part of their holiday in Malaysia, which was the main reason why Malaysia did not appear in the list of top tourism earners. Malaysia’s late entry presented it with the problem of selecting a distinct tourism product/image for the country, the way the Singapore Girl is synonymous with Singapore, or Thailand is the Land of Smiles or Bali is all culture. The following extract from a PATA (1991 quoted in MOCAT, 1992: 1) editorial summarised Malaysia’s obscure tourist image at that time: ‘Malaysia’s greatest strength is its tourism product diversity…but like a double edged sword, Malaysia’s product diversity has proven to be a marketing stumbling PROCEEDINGS 1 The 6th. ADRF General Meeting, 2004 Bangkok, Thailand

Concurrent Session: Policy and Planning of Tourism Product Development in Asian Countries

block. As it has a little of everything, Malaysia has failed to cut a distinct image in the international tourism arena’.

Over the years, the tourist image that Malaysia portrayed had changed from ‘Beautiful Malaysia’ to ‘Only Malaysia’, followed by ‘Fascinating Malaysia’ and currently ‘Malaysia, Truly Asia’. Consequently, tourism promotion materials ranging from billboards to brochures and CNN advertisements often portray a bevy of local beauties representing the Malays, Chinese, Indians and other...
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