Tourism Malaysia closed at the end of January its 14 offices in domestic markets as well as four offices abroad. Offices concerned by the close outside Malaysia were New York, Perth in Australia, Stockholm and Johannesburg.
Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz explained the move to close all domestic offices by avoiding job duplication with the States own tourism agencies which are now doing active tourism promotion. Over 15 years, the various Malaysian federated States set up tourism agencies to help promoting their own assets. These agencies are turning increasingly active also abroad participating at international travel shows such as ITB Berlin, ATM Dubaï or World Travel Market in London. At the recent ASEAN Travel Forum, the States of Johor Bahru, Penang, Sabah, Sarawak and Selangor were present with their own boosts next to Tourism Malaysia.
“States for example organise their own Visit Year. Just for 2017, we will have A Visit Year Pahang, Visit Year Perak and Visit Year Terengganu. These are States’ own initiatives and we support it internationally”, said TM Deputy Director General Advertising and Digital Abdul Khani Bin Daud.
The closure of the 14 offices will help also saving RM6 million per year, the equivalent of US$1.5 million. According to Nazri, the staff of the various offices will be reaffected into the ministry’s headquarters and other departments. “Every state has its own Executive Councillor for Tourism and the State Economic Unit (UPEN), so we don’t want a duplication of the tasks between the agencies and the tourism authorities in every state. Although all the Tourism Malaysia offices will be closed, we will create five information offices, namely in Penang for the northern region, Terengganu for the eastern region, Johor for southern region, Sabah at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport, and Sarawak at the Kuching International Airport,” he explained to Bernama News Agency.
Malaysia Tourism follows a trend seen in the travel industry where the national tourism authority is in charge of defining an international marketing campaign and coordinate efforts from various agencies to promote the country abroad. This is the model followed for example by Australia, the UK, Germany or even Vietnam, just to name a few countries.
Regarding the closure of four offices abroad, Nazri gave as an explanation the fact that Malaysia Airlines terminated its flights to those destinations and that other offices would take over their activities. Western Australia will be served from now by the Sydney Office and New York by Malaysia Tourism office in Los Angeles. However, the Minister plans to have new offices opened in China and India, Malaysia tourism most promising markets for the time being.
Tourism Malaysia is predicting to welcome 30.5 million international travellers this year after 26.75 million last year. “This is a growth of 4% over 2015. We slowly come back to our record year in 2014 when we received 27.1 million travellers. Revenues however grew by 18.8% to reach US$18.4 billion”, added Khami Bin Daud.
Tourism revenues this year should reach US$26.4 billion according to Tourism Officials present at the ASEAN Travel Forum. By 2020, the country targets to welcome some 36 million international tourists.