Govt told to prepare well for Visit Malaysia Year 2026

Diyana Ibrahim

Tourism associations in Malaysia believe the government has enough time to prepare for Visit Malaysia Year 2026. They suggest it start with resolving manpower issues. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, October 19, 2023.

TOURISM associations believe there’s enough time for the country to prepare for Visit Malaysia Year 2026. 

Malaysian Association of Travel and Tourism Agents president Nigel Wong said the government needed to resolve manpower issues first.  

He said skilled workers were needed in hotels and restaurants, as well as travel agencies. 

Wong said the Covid-19 pandemic had resulted in many skilled tourism workers switching jobs. 

“Most did not return to the industry after the pandemic because they already had other jobs they were comfortable with. 

“It’s the same with the aviation industry that lacks skilled workers because they chose to work on their own, to work from home. Because of that, they refused to return to work in the industry,” he said. 

Wong also hoped the government would find a way to ensure the improvement of public transport and tourism services, which included facilities at airports, cruise ship ports, and land borders. 

“This is the most important thing in the tourism sector,” he said. 

He added that among the facilities that needed to be improved were pedestrian areas, public toilets, and signage in tourist areas. 

“Ensure parking facilities for sightseeing tour buses and vans at tourist attractions. This is a big problem that travel agencies always face where they don’t have a place to park their vehicles. 

“This situation is not bad, but we can do better,” Wong said. 

Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim has announced resetting of the next Visit Malaysia Year to 2026 during the Budget 2024 tabling last Friday. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, October 19, 2023.

In his Budget 2024 presentation last week, Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim announced the resetting of the next Visit Malaysia Year to 2026. 

The campaign targets the arrival of 26.1 million foreign tourists who are expected to bring in revenue of RM97.6 billion. 

Putrajaya has allocated RM350 million to boost tourism activities and promote Malaysia as a leading holiday destination. This allocation includes assistance for organising arts and cultural activities.

Putrajaya is also pushing to develop a Muslim-friendly tourism industry. 

A special allocation of RM20 million will be provided to state governments to maintain selected tourist attractions, while RM80 million will go towards conserving buildings and heritage sites with Unesco recognition potential.  

Malaysia had earlier cancelled Visit Malaysia Year 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Ahmad Pishol Ishak, resident of the Langkawi Tourism Industry Association, hoped this two-year period would be used to intensify promotion of the slogan “Malaysia, Truly Asia”. 

“If you want to succeed, you have to keep the slogan because it is already well known. This is our strongest marketing strategy,” he said. 

He also hoped the government would not make visiting the country too expensive following implementation of the 8% service tax next year. 

“Even though they say foreign tourists are not affected by the fall in the Malaysian currency, the effect is actually the same. 

“The government can make it flexible for the tourism industry because it is the government that develops such policies,” he added. – October 19, 2023.  

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