TOURISTS spent US$583mil (RM 2.2bil) using Visa International's payment cards in Malaysia last year, representing an increase of 5% from 2001.
According to Visa International, the top six markets are Singapore (32%), Britain (14%), the US (8%), Japan (7.7%), Hong Kong (5.7%) and Australia (5.7%).
Its senior manager for South East Asia June Seah said In a statement yesterday that despite politically and economically trying times last year, these figures showed again that the international tourism sector was resilient and stable.
“Visa's latest figures are additional proof that Malaysia continues to be an attractive destination for international travellers,” Seah said.
The increase in spending using Visa cards compared favourably with official tourism statistics that showed the total number of tourist arrivals growing by 4% to 13.3 million last year.
Seah said that Visa International believed that the collaboration between the public and private sectors was critical for tourism growth.
“Visa card spend is a key contributor to tourism receipts, representing around 5.2% of all tourism receipts earned in Malaysia. Visa has been working closely with the local tourism industry to promote inbound tourism and has launched several programmes last year, given the importance of tourism to the national economy,” she said.
She also said that tourist spend on Visa cards was growing much faster than visitor arrivals.
In Asia Pacific, tourists spent US$14bil (RM53.2bil) using Visa cards last year, an increase of 14% compared with that in 2001.
The top five merchant categories were hotels, retail and department stores, travel agents, restaurants and duty-free stores.
Tourists from Asia-Pacific countries and the European Union generated about 50% and 30% of the total spending respectively.
Last year, Malaysian tourists spent US$350mil (RM1.3bil) using their Visa cards, representing an increase of 14% from 2001.
Singapore was their top spending destination at US$73mil (RM277.4mil), followed by Australia US$42mil (RM159.6mil), Britain US$37mil (RM140.6mil) and the US US$37mil (RM140.6mil).
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