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Malaysia cuts tourism budget, eyes new markets

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“When the budget is cut, it means less tourists will visit”
Malaysia has slashed its tourism promotion and advertising budget by 25%, or RM50 million (€10.3 million) from the RM200 million established earlier this year. It is also likely to orient its promotional campaigns more towards emerging key markets such as China and India.
The budget cut was the result of falling oil prices, which are forcing the government to trim its spending and operating expenditure.
“When the promotional and advertising budget is cut, it means less tourists will visit Malaysia,” Hamzah Rahmat, president of the Malaysian Association of Tour & Travel Agents, tells TTG Asia. “As tourism is the second largest foreign exchange earner, agencies that bring revenue such as Tourism Malaysia should not have its budget cut.”
Income from tourism rose by a healthy 10% last year to RM72 billion. The Malaysia Year of Festivals 2015 campaign is expected to help the country achieve a target of 29.4 million arrivals and RM89 billion in tourism receipts this year.
But dismal Q1 arrival figures for 2015 saw a drop of 8.6% year-on-year. With this and the budget cut, the travel trade has expressed doubts that this year’s target will be met.
“To maximise yield with a reduced budget, Tourism Malaysia should target key markets that can bring revenue to the country, such as China and India,” said Mint Leong, secretary-general of the Malaysian Inbound Tourism Association. “We should implement visa-free travel for tourists from both countries as these are good markets with a big populations of middle and high net income individuals.”
lly Bhoonee, executive director at World Avenues, urged the Malaysian Tourism Promotion Board to conduct more B2B roadshows in key markets while adopting a more stringent approach with mega fam trips to optimise funds.
He remarked: “What’s happening now is that agency bosses are extending the invitations to junior staff instead. Some of them do not speak English and they don’t know the product. How will they go back and sell Malaysia? We need to bring in decision makers and product managers who can feature the destination in their brochures and websites.”
TTG Asia

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