PUTRAJAYA, May 29 — Aggressive promoting and marketing campaigns on the international stage by the Tourism Ministry has resulted in over 6.6 million tourists visiting the country in the first three months of the year alone, it said.
Its minister Datuk Mohammadin Ketapi said this also generated RM21.4 billion in revenue for the government, compared to RM18.3 billion in the same period last year.
“We had approximately 6,696,230 foreign tourists enter the country from January to March, an increase of 2.7 per cent compared to the 6,520,218 foreign tourists in Malaysia during this same time in 2018,” he said during a press conference on the tourism sector’s performance for the first quarter of 2019.
Mohammadin also said the average length of stay for international tourists has also increased this year by 1.8 nights.
“In the first quarter of 2018, they spent an average of 4.2 nights while vacationing in Malaysia, whereas this time round it has risen to six nights on average.
“Average per capita expenditure has also increased by 13.8 per cent to RM3,201.80 this quarter, compared to RM2,813.10 last year,” he said.
The highest recorded per capita expenditure comes from Saudi Arabia with RM11,069, followed by the United Kingdom at RM5,212, India at RM4,712.60, the United States at RM4,506.20, China at RM4,411.10, and Japan at RM4,113.40.
Mohammadin said the ministry has expended its efforts in luring more foreign tourists to Malaysia by participating in international tourism expositions and trade fairs.
“This includes the World Travel Market in London in November last year, the 2019 ITB Berlin in March, and the latest being the Arabian Travel Market in end April to early May.
“It enabled us to meet with various industry players and form connectivity. This coupled with the various collaborations with low-cost airlines such as Air Arabia means we have engaged in air, sea, and land campaigns to bring them in,” he said.
However, the first quarter report also revealed a decline of tourists from West Asia/Middle East by as much as 22.1 per cent, with 65,202 tourists in Malaysia from January to March.
Director-general Datuk Musa Yusof said this was nothing to be worried of, and in fact may be useful this year round.
“Traditionally Middle Eastern countries travel abroad for holidays from June onwards to September. So the first quarter is usually a quiet time from them.
“However, if the month of Ramadan happens to fall during that June-September window, it can impact tourism and cause a drop. The past five years saw Ramadan fall in that window, but fortunately this time round it is not so we can expect an upswing for 2019,” he said.
Musa added that Malaysia also hopes to tap into China’s Golden Week period, which is a long holiday in October that can last up to seven or eight days. That time has become very popular for Chinese citizens to travel abroad, he said.