RECOMMENDATION FOR IMPROVING TOURISM IN MALAYSIA
Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board
Syaiful Arief Syah, BITM
Open University Malaysia
This report is prepared for the Director, Tourism Promotion Board of Malaysia. The topic for this report is Recommendation for Improving Tourism in Malaysia. The author believes although currently, the total amount of tourist comes to Malaysia increasing yearly, there are some areas that can be increase in improving and boosting tourism industry in Malaysia.
This report will focus on the problem faced by tourist and solutions overcome and minimize the problem to help boosting tourism industry in Malaysia. It is necessary to address some of the problems arise in Malaysia’s tourism industry since this industry is one of national economics contributors. Some of the findings can be rectified and improvement can be done since the Government of Malaysia had just launched the Visit Malaysia year 2007 campaign.
The research methods used in preparing this report was through literature searches of academic, internet research and online discussion in Learning Management System of Open University Malaysia.
Malaysia declared as an independent country in 31 August 1957 from British colonial. Since then, Malaysia had well known by almost all around the world. A lot of world significant events were held in Malaysia. Meeting of Commonwealth Head of Countries (CHOGM), 1997 World Youth Cup Soccer tournament and Commonwealth Games 1998 are among major event had been held here.
Malaysia is a country which populated by nearly 25 million multi-races people. There are 3 largest ethnic groups which are the Malay (50%), Chinese (25%) and Indian (10%). While the rest are those ethnic who lived in East of Malaysia. Islam is the official religion of Malaysia, however other religion practices are freely allowed.
Malaysia comprises of Peninsular Malaysia and the island of Borneo. It consist 14 states with one federal government formed by the party who won national election every 5 years.
Malaysian government had recently launched a campaign called Visit Malaysia 2007. This campaign is similar to the earlier which had been launched in 1987. The objective of this campaign is to attract tourist from all over the world.
2.0 Reason and Benefits for Tourism
There are several reasons and benefits can be gained by certain country by promoting their country to other people of other country. Economics growth, job opportunities and foreign currency exchange are some of the reasons why tourism is important for some countries like Malaysia as a developing country. By promoting Malaysia in tourism, it helps the nation to grow stability and constantly.
2.1 Economic Growth
By tourism industry, economic of Malaysia can be growth steadily. This
Is because visitors from other countries especially from United States, Europe and other developed countries are among the ‘ready-to-buy’ tourist. The ‘ready-to-buy’ terms is use to describe that these tourists is ready to spend their money in Malaysia due to greater value of their currency.
Domestic economy such as local made product for instance handcraft also will have significant impact from tourism industry. This is because some of local handcraft art such as batik can only be bought while the tourist in Malaysia.
2.2 Job Opportunity
Job opportunities in relevant field in tourism industry such as tourist guide and money-changer business also increase. This can help the government to reduce the gap of unemployment in Malaysia.
Some of tourist that comes to Malaysia may come here not only on holiday but may come of business purposes. If their feel that Malaysia is a country can offer them better return on investment, they will invest their business here. With investment comes other country, it helps to increase the availability of vacancy jobs not only in tourism industry but in other industries as well.
2.3 Foreign Currency Exchange
As a developing country, foreign currency exchange rates is an
important tool in measuring the country economic growth. This is because the value of Ringgit Malaysia can be stable by demand due to many tourist spent their holiday Malaysia. The total numbers of visitor that comes to visit Malaysia has been increased tremendously. This is based by total money exchange volume transactions that had grown from RM19billion in 2003 to RM24billion in 2004 and RM32billion in 2005. This figure is reported in Bank Negara Malaysia annual report.
It is shown that by having tourism in Malaysia, not only economic of the nation can growth steadily but the value of Ringgit also can be strong with other currencies.
3.0 Factors that Promote Tourism
There are several factors that need to be considered before promoting a
country for tourism. These factors can be natural factor such as weather or climate, reserved national parks, culture or human made factors such as buildings or other attraction places. A country without having any factor that can attract tourists to come to the country it is impossible that tourism industry can grow. There are several that help in promoting Malaysia to the rest of the world. The factors are:
3.1 Political Stability
The first and foremost factor that helps Malaysia in promoting tourism
is the political stability. Tourists will be considering the political environment of the country that they planned to visit. This is to ensure that the safety during their stays is safe and secured. Although Malaysia is a multi-races country, however the political environment is stable. This was due to the understanding from each races that belong to Malaysia.
Since Malaysia is a multi-race country, its offers a lot of different in
the citizen living style. Not all country in the world that has multi-races citizen can live in peaceful and harmony. There are so many ethnics festival that been celebrated in Malaysia. These festivals such as Hari Raya, Chinese New Year and Deepavali are among ethnics festival that are celebrates by all Malaysia with regards their races. This is one of factors that help in promoting tourism industry for Malaysia.
3.3 Natural Heritage
Malaysia are among one of the country that rich it natural heritage.
Natural heritage such as Mount Kinabalu, Mount Tahan, Batu Caves and National Parks in Sarawak, Sabah and Pahang are among that attracts tourist to come to Malaysia. This natural heritage is unique and is not available at other countries.
3.4 Exchange Rates
The cheaper rate of Ringgit among major currencies is one of the
factors in promoting tourism industry. Purchasing power is one of the reasons that is considered by tourists before deciding to go for holiday. By having cheaper exchange rate among major currencies such as US Dollar, UK Pound and European Euros it can also helps to grow the nation economics.
4.0 Problems in Tourism Industry
There are a lot of problems in tourism industry. These problems not only
faced tourists but also the industry players. This report will divides into 2 separate sub-topics.
4.1 Problems faced by the Tourists
As a tourist, we can expect that the country that we will visit will
offer to us a hassle-free trip. However, there were several problems faced by tourist based on discussion during in LMS and by an interview held with one tourist from Canada, Mr. Lawrence Spitzberg.
4.1.1 Language & Communication
This is the popular problem faced by tourists that comes to
Malaysia. The difficulties arise especially when a tourist is a backpackers and when they are traveling to suburban area. Although English language is being taught in all secondary and primary schools, however the usage of English language is still poor among the Malaysian. Not only the locals who live in suburban do not speak and understand English but some taxi drivers also had difficulties to speak and understand English.
4.1.2 Insufficient Information about Malaysia
Most of the tourists that come to visit Malaysia only know about Kuala Lumpur as the main point for attractions. There is no sufficient information to cover other attractive places that is available in Malaysia. Sometimes, the tourists are totally relying on the travel agent to take them to other places outside Kuala Lumpur. This is not the proper way to promote Malaysia for tourists especially to those who wanted to feel some difference either in food, life style or culture.
4.1.3 Poor Public Transportation System
Although the government had built modern technology in public transportation such as LRT and monorail, however the coverage of overall Malaysia public transportation is still poor. It is difficult to get from one place to another place especially if the tourist wants to travel for an urban to sub urban area. The timing for arrival of buses or train also is not accurate. This will cause for tourists that totally relying on public transportation to travel from one place to another place in Malaysia.
4.2 Problem faced by Industry Players
This report will also cover the problems faced by the tourism industry players. The problems arise from a lot of factors that need to be highlighted to Malaysian government in order to keep fostering the tourism industry.
4.2.1 Competition from Neighboring Countries
Local travel agents or the industry players are now not facing competition locally but also facing competition from neighboring countries. Travel agents from Thailand and Singapore are now trying to attract to the entire world on their country. Not only trying to promote their country only but they do also offers a short trip to Malaysia as well. This scenario always occurred during the F1 Grand Prix whereby most of the tourist did not came direct to Malaysia but actually came from either Thailand or Singapore.
4.2.2 Increases in Traveling Cost
Although Malaysia had introduced low cost carriage in order to boost tourism domestically and internationally, however the ground traveling cost is increasing year by year. This was due to increasing price of petroleum through out over the world. This will scare off the competitive price offered by local travel agents with price offered by neighboring countries travel agent.
5.0 Solution to the Problem Faced by Tourist & Industry Players
There will be a solution for a problem. In this report, it will provides
some solutions that faced by both tourist and industry players.
5.1 Setting Up Information Kiosk
Lack of information of Malaysia can cause massive lost in tourism
industry. Therefore, it is suggested that Malaysia to consider setting up information kiosk in potential countries to attracts the locals to come and visit Malaysia. An informative and interactive portal also can be set up in order to promote Malaysia to the rest of the world. Short quiz also can be included in the portal in order to increase people awareness of Malaysia. Flyers and brochures also can be put in place in world major airports such as Heathrow and JF Kennedy airport. This will help tourists from other countries attracted with what Malaysia can offer to them.
5.2 English Week for All
Although Bahasa Melayu is the national language, there is no harm
to implement English Week through out the nation. This can help Malaysia able to speak and understand better English. First contact group for tourist such as bus drivers, taxi drivers, airport personals and the police to be provided English lesson to help them to master or at least know and understand English language better. Special incentives to be given to travel agents that provide its staff English courses.
Road directories and directions also need to be considered to be in dual language which it will be in Bahasa Malaysia and English. This can help not only tourists easy to travel to one place to another place but also can help the locals to know English better.
5.3 Better Transportation Connectivity
Transportation is an integral component to a successful tourism
industry. Malaysia had modern technology in public transportation, however the connectivity between for the transportation is poor. For instance, traveler need to get different ticket if the want to travel by two separate kind of transportation. He or she need to buy one ticket for Putra LRT and another one ticket if she or he wants to travel with commuter. The government should consider in standardized the ticketing system for the public transportation by introducing one-day pass or one-week traveling pass.
Transportation between city and rural areas also need to be improves. Buses in rural area mostly are old and not suitable to project a good image of Malaysia. There should not be any discrimination or differentiate between rural and city public transportation.
5.4 Special Incentives to the Industry Players
Government should also consider giving special incentives to the
travel agents that constantly promoting Malaysia to the world. This can be measure by the number of tourists that visited Malaysia through the travel agent.
Special diesel subsidy also should be given to the industry players since the tourist will be traveled from one destination to other destination. This will encourage the travel agent to promote some other interesting places in Malaysia.
6.0 Recommendations and Conclusion
Based on the problems faced by both tourists and the industry players, it is
recommended that some rectification measures need to be taken now. This is to ensure that both parties involves in the tourism industry will facing very minimal problem since this industry does offer a lot of benefits for a country especially like Malaysia.
Some of the solutions can be done easily and quick. A plan in order to minimize the problems faced by both parties need to be planned accordingly and to be structured well so that all plans can be works and integrate well. This also is to ensure that the campaign Visit Malaysia Year 2007 can be a successful event. It will promise a lot of excitement if every problems faced by the tourists can be solved.
Malaysia also needs a better plan in tourism industry so that the number of tourists that come to Malaysia is increasing yearly. Although there are many campaigns to attract tourists to come to Malaysia for holiday been done by the government Malaysia must be prepared with proper infrastructures to ensure it can accommodate numbers of visitor.
The industry players also need to find better alternatives in order to face stiff competition from neighboring countries. They also need to find a smarter way in ensuring that the price for their package offered is not increasing year by year and attractive.
- Hasan S, 2000, Determinants of Market Conpetitiveness in an Environmentally Sustainable Tourism Industry, Journal of Travel Research, Boulder, Feb, vol. 38, issue 3
- Prof. Dr. Ansary Ahmed et.al (2005). Open University Malaysia: English for Workplace Communication. Kuala Lumpur. Pearson Prentice Hall.