THE tourism industry in Malaysia is an important sector of the economy and the Malaysian government should take a good look into the problems of the industry, especially in light of recent challenges like the Iraq war and the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SAR) outbreak, said Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) secretary-general Datuk Mohd Khalid Harun.
Khalid said the industry was facing many different kinds of challenges and Matta was undertaking various steps to overcome the problems, whether these dealt with other sectors of the industry like hotels, tour bus operators and other related businesses.
At present there is no single body that collates statistics relating to the industry so most of the information we have regarding actual tourism activities are not as accurate as we would like.
Imagine if we were able, for example, to obtain all the sales figures of the different tour operators. We would then be able to know exactly how much the country is earning from tourist arrivals, Khalid told reporters after presenting a report on the current state of the tour and travel industry to members of the Asset Financing and Leasing Association of Malaysia (AFLAM) in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
Khalid pointed out however, that all was not gloom and doom as seen in inbound tourist arrivals for the last five years, which showed that the industry has been growing.
The statistics show that the number of arrivals grew from 5.5 million in 1998 to 13.3 million in 2002.
The tourism industry in Malaysia contributed RM67bil in revenue earnings over the last five years, of which RM42bil went towards the national gross domestic product and RM25bil was in foreign exchange earnings.
There was still much that could be done, Khalid said, adding that cooperation among the different sectors of the industry would go a long way towards easing the problems and challenges faced by the industry.
Similarly, operators of tourist transportation, such as tour bus and coach operators, could also look toward ways and means to work in tandem with Matta members to the benefit of all, he added.
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