Malaysia’s Visit Year 2020 takes off

Chiang Mai, Thailand, 25 January 2018: Even before the final tally on 2017 arrivals is in, Malaysia’s tourism officials are already forecasting the country will welcome 33.1 million tourists in 2018 with revenue soaring to MYR135 billion.

Optimism was running high last week during the ASEAN Tourism Forum with Malaysia’s Minister of Tourism and Culture, Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz, predicting arrivals would crest at 36 million during Visit Malaysia Year 2020.  Revenue could reach as high as MYR168 billion.

He officially rolled out the Visit Malaysia 2020 campaign, at a lunch held on the closing day of ATF’s TRAVEX trade show attended by 240 international buyers, here in Chiang Mai.

The latest 2017 provisional tourist count extends 10 months to the end of October when the nation recorded 21,504,930 arrivals (January to October), down 2.5% on the same period in 2016. (22.06 million)

The target for 2017 was set at 31 million tourists.

Malaysia’s tourism has suffered a patchy performance in recent years. 2015 closed with 25.72 million visits down 6.25%.  Arrivals improved in 2016, by 4% to reach 26.8 million, but it could be a stretch to reach 31 million visits in 2017, considering the below par performance over the first 10 months.

But the Minister of Tourism was looking forward to Visit Malaysia Year 2020 basing his optimism on the country’s track record hosting four successful Visit Year campaigns in the past.

Success will depend on the campaign’s storytelling, the delivery of new content and a mega supply of holiday bargains that will catch the imagination of consumers.

Key projects include Desaru Coast Malaysia, an integrated destination resort, and the 20th Century Fox World Malaysia theme park, both with a strong appeal to travellers from Asia.

Desaru Coast is one of Malaysia’s first integrated premium resorts and its initial phase is due to open this June. It will offer a themed waterpark, known as Desaru Coast Adventure Waterpark, where visitors can experience the largest wave pool in Southeast Asia, as well as the region’s first water coaster.

The fully integrated beachfront destination will feature global recognised hotel brands such as The Westin Desaru Coast Resort, Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast and Anantara Desaru Coast Resort & Villas.

Apart from domestic demand, the project will target Malaysia’s top inbound travel markets in Asia such as Singapore with around 8,2 million visits (Jan to Aug), Indonesia (1.8 million visits), China (1.5 million), Thailand (1.2 million) and Brunei (1.2 million).

New hotels are expected to open over the next two years across the country including Four Seasons Kuala Lumpur with 270 private residences; Movenpick Resort & Spa in Terengganu with 207 guest rooms; W Hotels with 150 rooms; and DoubleTree by Hilton with 300 rooms.

Malaysia’s visibility in European outbound travel markets should improve with a recently signed brand partnership with ITB Berlin for the March 2019 trade show.

To highlight the VMY 2020 launch, AirAsia rolled out a regional promotion, last week, with up to 70% off fares to all Malaysian destinations for travel between 1 August and 22 November this year.

The latest routes served by AirAsia are Davao-Kuala Lumpur; Nha Trang-Kuala Lumpur; Jeju-Kuala Lumpur; Shenzhen-Kuching; Singapore-Bintulu; and Macao-Johor Bahru. Meanwhile, a new Jaipur-Kuala Lumpur route will commence 5 February.