KUALA LUMPUR: The Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry is hoping for a bigger allocation to promote the country overseas as part of its Budget 2023 wishlist.
Minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri said this was necessary to revitalise the country's tourism industry.
"We also hope to get more grants to spur industry (growth) and (an) allocation for cultural diplomacy with the Foreign Ministry to ensure we achieve our targets," she said after a Merdeka Children Programme in conjunction with National Day 2022, held through the National Archives, here on Wednesday (Aug 31).
She said the ministry is confident of achieving its new target of 9.2 million tourists and RM26.8bil in tourism receipts by the end of the year.
This number had been revised from an initial conservative estimate of 4.5 million arrivals and RM11.1bil in tourism receipts, she added.
"With China reopening and even Brunei which has opened, we can anticipate the numbers to increase. Some other promising countries include India, Thailand and Indonesia.
"When the Chinese tourists do come, it will be like 'revenge' for the industry.
"We are also seeing business events bringing in people in big numbers, including their families," she said.
On Sept 20, an event with the ministry's Indian tourism counterpart will be held in Sarawak while November's World Tourism Conference in Sabah is expected to draw 700 participants, she added.
She told the media that the ministry was waiting for verification by other agencies, such as the Immigration Department and Bank Negara Malaysia, before announcing tourist arrival figures since borders reopened on May 1.
"This is why as of August, we can say the numbers are about three million but when we sit down next month, we (will) see the actual figures," she said.
On a separate note, Nancy said foreign workers – especially from Indonesia and the Philippines – have been coming in daily to help fill the 34,000 vacancies in the housekeeping, spa and massage services sectors of the tourism industry.
She had earlier said a total of 34,000 foreign workers had been approved to help tackle the tourism industry's labour shortage from this year until 2024.
She said the ministry had tried to scout for locals with the help of the Social Security Organisation (Socso) job fair but there were not many takers.