According to Norlida, et al. (2007), the Malaysian economy was traditionally conquered by the performance of the primary commodities sector such as rubber, tin, palm oil and petroleum which was subsequently followed by drastic development of the manufacturing sector in the late 1970’s. Starting early 1970’s and 1980’s, the government started widening its economic base, and tourism sector became the potential sector to be developed. This is all due to the several major global economic recessions.
As to the statistics listed in the EconomyWatch (n.d), it is stated that the tourism industry in Malaysia ranks 35th in the international tourism market. Travel and tourism associated activities are expected escalate to yield profits of 33.6 billion in the year 2007. Tourism industry in Malaysia is assumed to rise by 4.5% in the year 2007. This figure is likely to go up by 6.6% every year. Opportunities in employment are ascertained to attain a figure of 1217000 thereby contributing 11.6% of total employment.
Tourism in Malaysia hopes that in the year 2010, the tourism sector will bring out more shines for Malaysia as the Tourism Ministry in eyeing on new tourism products after the higher than expected number of foreign tourists arrived in the country last year. In 2009, 23.65 million foreign tourists arrived in Malaysia, an increased 7.2% as compared to 22.05 million in the year 2008 (Bernama, 2010). Besides that, it has also indicated that the number of foreigners who visited Malaysia has exceeded the target figure of 19 million in the forecasts given by the tourism authorities early last year. Moreover, in December 2009, there was an increase of 4.0% in the arrivals of foreign visitors at 2,141,071 as against the 2,058,684 recorded for the same month in year 2008 (Bernama, 2010).
According to 2005 data from World Tourism Organization (WTO), Malaysia places 14th in the ranking of counties either by international tourism arrivals. International tourism arrivals in Malaysia increased from 7.93 million in 1999 to 17.55 million in 2006, representing an average annual growth rate of about 13.9% and the growth of tourist receipts has been even more spectacular, rising from RM 12321.3 million in 1999 to RM 36271.7 million in 2006 with an annual growth rate of about 19.9% (Malaysia Tourism Statistics, 2007) as cited in Habibi, et al. (2009). The direct and indirect effect of travel and tourism in Malaysia in 2006 was expected to account for 14.6% of GDP and 1,345,000 jobs (12.6% of total employment). The travel and tourism sector generated US$18.1 billion in export revenue, representing 10.1% of exports in 2006, making tourism Malaysia’s the second largest contributor of foreign exchange earnings to the country after the manufacturing sector (WTTC, 2006) as cited in Habibi, et al. (2009).
The total number of international tourists rose by an accumulative yearly average of 11.5% between 1995 and 2005. Figure1 shows the international tourist arrivals to the Malaysia during 1995- 2005. In fact, tourism increased between 1995 and 2005 but also a 2-year decline is observed in 1998 and 2003. The most important decline took place in 2003 with a 19.8% drop in the numbers. The worldwide evolution of tourism as a consequence of the SARS crisis in 2003 events may explain this decrease.
[pic]Figure1: International tourist arrivals to the Malaysia (1995-2005). Source:...