Our group investigates the issues faced by the tourism industry in Malaysia, one of the countries in the BIMP EAGA regions. The main issue in tourism are low productivity and low skilled labours. Towards Vision 2020, Malaysia needs to produce a world-class tourist destination. However, the imbalance between global demand for and supply of tourism sector urges Malaysia to produce high skilled labours and productivity. Our findings includes five factor contributing to the two main issues, which are; lack of cooperation among tourism stakeholders, negative perception of tourism graduates on tourism industry, low wages, and tourism environments. The major problem in the tourism talent includes unskilled labour and insufficient facilities.
Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines - East ASEAN Growth Area or BIMP-EAGA was launched in 1994 by the governments of these four countries. The objective was to hasten the development of the economy of Brunei and sub-regions of the three other countries through regional cooperation. BIMP-EAGA consists of Brunei Darussalam, East and West Kalimantan, Central Kalimantan, South Kalimantan, North Sulawesi, Central Sulawesi, South Sulawesi, Southeast Sulawesi, Maluku and Irian Jaya (in Indonesia); Sabah, Sarawak and Federal Territory of Labuan (in Malaysia) and the Island of Mindanao and Palawan Province (in the Philippines) (Asian Development Bank, 2004).
According to Asian Development Bank (1996), each subregion of the BIMP-EAGA shares a common constraint which is related to the shortage of managerial, technical and skilled labour that is necessary for economic expansion and diversification. The member countries of BIMP-EAGA agreed to the clustering of the existing Working Groups (WG) and the Lead Country per cluster during the 11th Senior Officials Meeting (Mohd. Raduan &Thirunaukurasu, 2006). It was decided that Malaysia is to be the Lead Country for cluster on Joint Tourism Development and Human Resource Development (HRD).
Based on the Fifth United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), forecasts indicate that despite the global economic crisis of 2008-2009, international tourist arrivals to the BIMP–EAGA sub region could increase from 4.5 million in 2009 to 7.2 million by 2015. This indirect rise in annual foreign exchange receipts from tourism would exceed $4.68 billion. Domestic tourism in the sub region’s focal areas is also expanding rapidly and intra-EAGA arrivals are expected to top 18 million by 2015.
Therefore in order to achieve this target, one of the areas that should be taken into consideration is the human resource in tourism sector which is vital to support the industry’s growth. An adequate supply of workforce and availability of quality human resource, as well as efficient use is imperative as it may bring benefits to the participating countries (Ishak & Mohd. Yusof, 2003).
In Malaysia, tourism industry is an important contributor to the economy, generating RM36.9 billion for gross national income (GNI) in 2009. This makes tourism the fifth largest industry in our economy after Oil, Gas and Energy, Financial Services, Wholesale and Retail, and Palm Oil. By 2020, the tourism industry is estimated to contribute RM103.6 billion in GNI, with arrivals increasing from 24 million in 2009 to 36 million in 2020 (Economic Transformation Programme: A Roadmap for Malaysia).
However, the issue of lack of skilled workers in the industry as mentioned earlier could contribute to the low productivity of our tourism industry. This could be a constraint in realizing a Joint Tourism Development program within the BIMP-EAGA regions. With more skilled human capability we could increase the workers productivity and income which leads to a more productive economy, innovative and competitive (Ishak & Mohd. Yusof, 2003). Therefore, serious attention should be given in this area by identifying the underlying factors that contribute to the...