Malaysia recorded 'massive drop' of 83.4% in tourist arrivals in 2020

Malaysia only recorded about four million tourist arrivals in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. - Filepic

Tourist arrivals to Malaysia fell by 83.4% in 2020 with the country only welcoming about four million tourists.

The country recorded a total of 4,332,722 international tourist arrivals last year, a marked decrease from the 26,100,784 tourist arrivals recorded in 2019.

"The massive drop in international tourist arrivals is attributed to the closure of Malaysian borders since March 18 last year due to the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic," said Tourism Malaysia in a statement.

For the same period, Malaysia’s tourist receipts also plunged by 85.3% from RM86.14bil in 2019 to RM12.69bil last year.

The average per capita expenditure recorded a total of RM2,928, a decline of 11.3% from RM3,300 in 2019.

Negative growth was observed for tourists from every market, namely short-haul market (-83.5%), medium-haul market (-84.7%), and long-haul market (-79.7%).

"Malaysia is not alone in registering negative growth in the number of tourist arrivals. According to the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), Asia and the Pacific recorded an 84% decrease in arrivals," said Tourism Malaysia.

Data from the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) and National Tourism Organisation (NTO) revealed that neighbouring Asean countries also saw a significant decline in the number of tourists, including Thailand (-83.2%), Singapore (-85.7%), Vietnam (-78.7%), and Indonesia (-75%).

The top ten international tourist arrivals to Malaysia were from Singapore (1,545,255), Indonesia (711,723), China (405,149), Thailand (394,413), India (155,883), Brunei (136,020), South Korea (119,750), Japan (74,383), Australia (72,680), and Vietnam (64,184).

Asean countries or the short-haul market remains Malaysia's top contributor with a 68.1% share of tourist arrivals (2,949,363), followed by the medium-haul market (20.1%), which includes East Asia and South Asia (870,314).

The long-haul market share was 11.8%, with 512,484 tourists from West Asia, Middle East, America, Oceania, Europe and Africa.

In terms of overall tourist expenditure, the top five contributors came from Singapore, Indonesia, China, India and Thailand.

The figures came following Tourism Malaysia director-general Zulkifly Md Said's statement that the country is banking on domestic "revenge tourists" to boost the battered leisure travel sector.

"Our domestic tourists are waiting to travel again, especially interstate travel. If they are allowed to cross state borders, they would do so," he said during the launch of ITB Berlin Now recently.

The term "revenge tourism" describes the huge desire from people to travel after being stuck at home amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Zulkifly added that tourism operators in Malaysia are ready to receive visitors once tourism activities resume in full again.
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