KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s tourism receipts recorded a drop of 71.2 percent to record RM52.4 billion in 2020 compared to RM182.1 billion in 2019, according to Chief Statistician Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Uzir Mahidin.
He said 2020 is the second year that domestic tourism receipts exceeded the inbound tourism receipts with a contribution of 73.8 percent or RM38.6 billion.
“Simultaneously, outbound expenditure for last year recorded a decrease of 61.7 percent amounting to RM17.1 billion,” he said in a statement in response to the Tourism Satellite Account 2020 findings announced by the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM) today.
Throughout 2020, Mohd Uzir said the tourism industry had generated RM199.4 billion of Gross Value Added of Tourism Industry (GVATI) by contributing 14.1 percent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
“In terms of value, this shrinkage matches the performance shown in 2015, as a consequence of the government’s restriction in economic activities to curb the spread of Covid-19. The GVATI shrank 17.1 percent in 2020 compared to 9.1 percent growth in the previous year,” he said.
Mohd Uzir said the direct tourism contribution to the national economy was severely affected, with a decrease of 72 percent, but employment in the industry declined at a lower rate of 2.9 percent as the government introduced the Salary and Wage Subsidy initiative to ensure tourism operators could retain their employees.
He said overall, the tourism sector in 2020 was still able to absorb the substantial pressure from the weak demand as consumption in non-tourism activities helped moderate the effects of Covid-19 on the national economy as reflected through the performance of GVATI.
“Efforts to intensify domestic tourism activities should be the focus in reviving the country’s tourism sector to counter the prolonged restrictions at the national borders still in force that affected the potential of foreign tourists’ receipts,” he said.
On the prospects of the tourism sector, the Chief Statistician said Malaysia’s tourism industry should continue to focus on digitalisation and expansion of smart products and infrastructure as an initiative to develop a more resilient and sustainable future in the country as recommended by the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA).
He said the National Tourism Policy (NTP) 2020-2030 launched on Dec 23, 2020, by the government would ensure the viability of the country’s tourism industry and make Malaysia a preferred tourism destination worldwide.
Among the Transformation Strategies outlined in the NTP is to implement ‘Smart Tourism’ which aims to take the industry to the next level by taking advantage of opportunities in the digital age.
“Digital technology has influenced the way people travel and the tourism industry players are changing the ways they operate.
“Moreover, this will rebuild the tourist’s confidence through rebranding and developing communication plans to deliver messages where Malaysia is a safe and trusted travel destination,” he said.
According to the statement, the implementation of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme since February 2021 has enabled the government to open up the social and economic sectors in stages with the implementation of a comprehensive National Recovery Plan throughout the country.
Subsequently, the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC) has shifted to the domestic market to drive tourism activities by implementing the travel bubble with detailed standard operating procedures (SOPs), starting with Langkawi as a pilot destination to fully vaccinated local tourists beginning Sept 16.
Mohd Uzir said at a global level, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) predicts that the tourism sector will return to pre-pandemic performance in 2024, largely driven by domestic tourism activities. – Bernama