Tourism development will continue to be given due attention by the Pakatan Harapan (PH)-led government in view of the industry's significant contribution to the nation's economy, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said.
She said the industry had become the second largest foreign exchange earner for the country with 25.9 million tourist arrivals and RM82.2 billion in tourism revenue last year.
“Tourism’s contribution to the local economy is approximately 15 per cent and it provides employment for some 3.2 million people, making up 22.7 per cent of the total employment in Malaysia,” she said when speaking at a welcoming dinner for participants of the Pacific-Asia Travel Association (PATA) Travel Mart 2018 in Langkawi last night.
According to her, the success factors for tourism in Malaysia can be attributed to the country's political stability, world-class facilities, strategic location, diverse attractions and accommodations, favourable currency exchange rates, hospitality and mouth-watering cuisines, among others.
“All these create a conducive environment that encourages not only tourist visits, but also business investments into Malaysia,” she said.
Wan Azizah said the selection of Malaysia as the host for this year's PATA Travel Mart, as well as other international events that it had and would host in the future would provide huge impacts and multiplier effects to the economy.
“In addition, conferences and forums are platforms for knowledge sharing and technology transfers which are infinitely valuable, while trade events such as this encourage industry growth through business opportunities,” she added.
Kedah Menteri Besar, Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir, Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Mohamaddin Ketapi and PATA chairman Dr Chris Bottrill were also present at the reception.
Some 2,500 delegates from 60 countries are taking part in this year's travel mart, which is centred at the Mahsuri International Convention Centre.
Langkawi Development Authority (LADA) chief executive officer, Datuk Azizan Noordin told Bernama that a total of 198 organisations from 60 countries have begun to gather at the Mahsuri International Exhibition Centre (MIEC) for this year’s edition of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Travel Mart.
Package buyers and sellers from countries like India, Thailand, China, Macau and South Korea are among those taking part in the event, billed as the largest tour and travel business marketing event in the Asia-Pacific region.
Azizan said for the first time, the travel mart also include a PATA youth symposium which attracted over 100 university students from within and outside the country.
“We aim to attract more youths to be involved in the tourism industry and through this symposium, they will be able to identify the opportunities, whether around the country or abroad,” he said.