Malaysia highlights growing regional appeal

Air Arabia to operate region’s first direct flight by a low-cost carrier to Kuala Lumpur from this July

Malaysia was recently named the number one destination for Muslim travellers for the ninth consecutive year by Singapore-based CrescentRating, the world's leading authority on halal travel, making the Southeast Asian nation an attractive option for visitors from the Middle East.

Speaking to the press during a media event at Arabian Travel Market (ATM) in Dubai, Tourism Malaysia outlined its ambitious plans for growth.

The GCC remains a key market for inbound tourism to Malaysia, with total arrivals from the region standing at 315,733 during 2018 - an increase of 25.3 per cent on the previous year - with Oman, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Kuwait among the top five source markets.

Oman topped the list with the highest number of tourist arrivals, up 36.9 per cent, followed by Saudi Arabia (up 11.7 per cent) and the UAE (up 9.7 per cent).

During the same period, visitors from the region contributed more than Dh2.7 billion ($734.9 million) to Malaysia’s economy, with tourism receipts rising by 33 per cent compared to 2017. Travellers from the GCC countries also recorded the highest average expenditure per person, with visitors from Saudi Arabia spending around Dh10,300 ($2,803.6), UAE around Dh8,300 ($2,259.2), Oman around Dh7,500 ($2,259.2), and Kuwait around Dh7,400 ($2,014.2).

Datuk Musa HJ. Yusof, director general of Tourism Malaysia, said: “Malaysia has so much to offer for tourists from the region, and in particular Muslim travellers seeking a safe, family-friendly destination. From rich cultural excursions to outdoor adventure and world-class leisure attractions, we are delighted to showcase the best of Malaysia here in Dubai.”

One of the key highlights during the event was the Malaysia Year of Healthcare Travel 2020 (MYHT 2020), which aims to position the country as one of the leading global healthcare travel destinations. The campaign will play a key role in attracting tourists to the country.

“Malaysia’s goal for 2020 is to draw more than 30 million international tourists and around Dh89 billion ($24.2 billion) in tourist receipts,” Yusof said.