Tourism ‘holds the key to Malaysia’s growth’

TOURISM has a crucial role in transforming Malaysia into a high-income country, according to Malaysian Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak.

His comments came at the Global Leaders for Tourism Campaign, organised by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) and the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in Kuala Lumpur in October.

Tourism has been named as one of 12 national key economic areas at the centre of Malaysia’s efforts to transform into a high-income nation by 2020, the Prime Minister told UNWTO secretary-general Taleb Rifai on receiving an open letter on the importance of the industry.

The Prime Minister spoke of the importance afforded to tourism by the Malaysian government, in particular to the principles of sustainability, diversification and the rejuvenation of destinations such as Langkawi and Penang.

The premier also assured Rifai he would work to “become an ambassador for world tourism.”

“Malaysia has recognised tourism as a powerful driver of economic growth, as set out in the country’s Economic Transformation Programme,” Rifai said. “By targeting tourism, the government is providing the sector the support it needs to contribute to Malaysia’s medium term growth. Joining the Global Leaders for Tourism Campaign is a further show of this commitment to growth and development through tourism.”

David Scowsill, president and CEO of the WTTC, said: “The importance of travel  and tourism as a driver of Malaysia’s economy is clear. Travel and tourism will contribute five per cent or $39.5 billion of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2011 to the Malaysian economy while supporting 1.6 million jobs or 13.8 per cent of total employment.

“The strong message of support for the industry embodied in the acceptance of the open letter shows the government’s commitment to realising travel and tourism’s potential to create jobs, generate exports and stimulate investment.’

“Tourism preserves, conserves and protects mother nature,” said Minister of Tourism Dato’ Sri Dr Ng Yen Yen. He further stressed Malaysia’s commitment to the green agenda of tourism development and its aspirations to take a leading role in showcasing good practices, such as Sipadan Island, in terms of environmental protection and sound waste management through tourism.  

“The Malaysia Truly Asia slogan has become an example of successful tourism marketing for other destinations to follow,” said Rifai.

“It clearly reflects Malaysia’s status as a microcosm of Asia and the ability of tourism to bring together peoples of different cultures through tourism.”