KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 21): Almost three million tourists from China visited Malaysia last year making them the largest group of visitors to the country, followed by those from India and Korea.
In fact, Deputy Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Muhammad Bakhtiar Wan Chik said visitors from the three countries formed the bulk of tourist arrivals into the country in 2018.
Chinese tourist arrivals to Malaysia recorded an overwhelming increase from 2.2 million visitors in 2017 to almost three million in 2018, he said adding the number of Indian tourists, grew from 552,000 in 2017 to 600,000 last year, while the number of Korean tourists increased by 30 per cent from 484,528 in 2017 to 600,016 in 2018.
The number of medium- and long-haul tourist arrivals from these non-ASEAN member countries had increased by almost 20 per cent in 2018 compared with the previous year, said Muhammad Bakhtiar in Bernama News Channel’s Ruang Bicara programme last night.
“Even though we are experiencing a slight drop in the number of tourist arrivals from ASEAN countries especially Singapore and Brunei, which was 25.8 million in 2018 compared to 25.9 million in 2107, the total income of the tourism sector in 2018 had increased to RM84.1 billion from RM82.2 billion in 2017,” he said.
Muhammad Bakhtiar said the increase in seat offers and additional routes by airlines was a factor that contributed to the increased tourist arrivals to the country.
“The seating capacity offered has gone up by 35.7 percent while airline routes have also increased. This is because of the smart partnerships we have with some airlines.
“For example, Qatar Airways has been flying from Doha to Penang and they will start another route from Doha to Langkawi from April this year.
“In addition, Condor Air Frankfurt will work with Malaysia Airlines to fly three times a week from Frankfurt to KLIA, KLIA to Penang, Johor and Kota Kinabalu, and with shared services with many other airlines. When the capacity of the seats increased, the number of tourists will also increase,” he added.
Muhammad Bakhtiar also welcomed proposals to exempt visas for tourists from China and India which he said would be a big boost for the nation’s tourism industry.