MATTA places high hopes in new Cabinet

KUALA LUMPUR, 9 December 2022: The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents congratulated YAB Dato’ Seri Anwar bin Ibrahim as Malaysia’s 10th Prime Minister earlier this week while calling on the new government to make tourism one of the key pillars of the Malaysian economy

In a recent statement by the Secretary General of the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC), the government aims to attract 15 million tourists and gain revenue of MYR47.6 billion from the tourism industry in 2023. This is a significant decrease from pre-pandemic levels of 26 million tourists, with MYR86.1 billion in revenue in 2019.

“The forecast does not bode well as these numbers indicate that there just isn’t enough business to support the Malaysian tourism economy in 2023,” said MATTA president Datuk Tan Kok Liang. “There needs to be transformation; a fresh, more strategic and dynamic approach to how we will accelerate the recovery and growth of our tourism economy.”

Dato Sri Tiong King Sing has been named the new Minister of Tourism Arts and Culture. He replaces Dato Sri Nancy Shukri, who led the ministry from August 2021 to November 2022.

MATTA’s president noted the MOTAC’s scope of responsibility should be widened to include infrastructure development and tourism vehicles to be effective; otherwise, it is in danger of becoming a ‘toothless tiger’ as it does not regulate anything else except for minor sectors within the tourism eco-system.

“It is now an absolute necessity that special attention is placed on developing tourism infrastructure and products – merely focusing on promotions and marketing will not be effective if we have nothing new or significant to offer the world.”

He warned that failure to rise to the challenge could see tourism stagnate while our Asean neighbours continue to register healthy tourism growth.

MATTA works proactively with the government of the day to develop and grow the Malaysian tourism industry and has played many roles, including promoting Malaysian tourism domestically and abroad through its MATTA Fairs and online travel platform. It also organises trade missions to key and emerging source markets and, most significantly, its regional and international engagements with governments and other national trade and tourism organisations.

“More importantly, other ministries need to pay more than just lip service to the idea of tourism as a major economic asset – we need the various related government agencies, most notably the Ministry of Transport, the Ministry of Home Affairs (Immigration) and the Ministry of International Trade and Industry to align with MOTAC… We must streamline and re-evaluate the many restrictive and outdated policies to ensure that tourism businesses can recover and remain competitive,” added Tan.

“We look forward to working closely with the new Minister (MOTAC). MATTA will play its part in supporting the ministry, and we hope there will be more active engagement with the private sector towards this shared goal,” Tan concluded.

MATTA is also calling on the government to consider the continuation of post-Covid tourism recovery policies, allocate more incentives and funding for industry players and urgently look into the modernisation of the Tourism Industry Act 1992, licensing policies and outdated regulations.