Tourism Malaysia: Industry close to pre-pandemic level, 18 million tourists last year surpassed target

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 22 — Malaysia's tourism industry rebounded remarkably in 2023 to almost pre-pandemic level after the country reopened its international borders in 2022, Tourism Malaysia director-general Datuk Ammar Abd Ghapar reportedly said.

In an interview with aviation event Routes Asia published in Aviation Week Network, Ammar said Malaysia recorded 17.8 million tourist arrivals between January and November last year — which was a 116.5 per cent growth from 2022, and surpassed its 16.1 million tourists target last year.

For this year, he said that Malaysia has set a target of welcoming 27.3 million international tourist arrivals, bringing in RM102.7 billion.

“In other words, we are hopeful to go beyond our pre-pandemic numbers, which was 26.1 million tourists back in 2019,” he reportedly said, pointing to the country hosting the Asean Tourism Forum next year and Visit Malaysia Year in 2026.

“While we have yet to meet the pre-pandemic figures, we have seen a steady surge in arrivals from our top markets, especially in the past year from China after the government there eased its travel restrictions for outbound tourism,” he added, referring to the recent visa-free policy.

Ammar added that Tourism Malaysia is also actively collaborating with international airlines such as Emirates and Qatar Airways to increase air connectivity to accommodate returning medium-haul markets from Asia and Africa, and long-haul ones from the Americas, Europe and Oceania.

He added that the Malaysian government's decision to relax entry visa requirements for several countries including China and India, is a crucial factor in helping Tourism Malaysia meet its 2024 targets, and to prepare for Visit Malaysia 2026.

“With the shifting travel trends and increased awareness of responsible tourism, we are continuously working hand-in-hand with industry players to meet these new demands by recreating and diversifying cultural and tourism products, adding more value to the tourism products and services provided, and improving destination attractiveness to attract more high-yield tourists,” Ammar added.

On November 26 last year, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim announced the new policy of 30-day free entry for China's and India's nationals.

The 30-day visa-free scheme for China' and India's citizens is one of five initiatives under Malaysia's new visa liberalisation plan, which was unveiled by Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail on November 27.