KUALA LUMPUR: The Visit Malaysia 2020 (VM2020) target of 30mil tourist arrivals and RM100bil in tourism receipts has been scaled down from a much higher figure due to the spillover from the airline tragedies in 2014, reveals Tourism Malaysia.
Its director-general Datuk Musa Yusof said in 2009, Tourism Malaysia had set a loftier target of 36mil tourist arrivals and RM160bil in tourism receipts for VMY2020.
"What happened was that our tourist arrivals dropped after 2014, because we had very bad incidents, ” he said at a press conference to welcome international press here for a mega familiarisation tour on Tuesday (Sept 3).
Musa was referring to Malaysia Airlines flights MH370 that went missing on March 8,2014, and MH17, which was shot down in Ukraine on July 17 the same year.
On top of that, AirAsia Indonesia flight QZ8501 crashed in the Java Sea off Borneo on Dec 28, 2014.
Musa said the MH17 downing had the biggest impact on the tourism industry.
"People associate AirAsia to Malaysia... there was a perception that there was something wrong in Malaysia, ” he said, adding that the figures did not look well after these devastating tragedies.
"At that time, we were going full swing in advertising on Discovery, CNN, National Geographic...after that, we had to slow down advertising, almost stopped it, to reduce the 'noise'," said Musa, adding that the Malaysian currency also fell during that period.
He said they had to then review the VM2020 targets to reflect this impact on the tourism industry, adding that current targets were achievable.
"We are confident, ” he said.
Last year, Malaysia saw the arrival of 25.8mil tourists, generating some RM84.1bil for the economy.
The first half of 2019 has seen a 4.9% growth in tourist arrivals, recording 13.3mil arrivals and RM41.69bil tourism receipts.