Malaysia's Minister of Tourism announced recently that the country's government will be spending US$16 million (EUR12 million) in 2011 to bolster business tourism to the southeast Asian nation.
Recognizing the untapped potential in business tourism and given the high-yield visitors it attracts, the funding will be channeled toward enhancing Malaysia's competitiveness in the meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (MICE) arena, said Phang Wei Yin of the Malaysia Convention and Exhibition Bureau (MyCEB).
This decision came after a series of brainstorming sessions conducted with the private sector on the tourism industry as part of the National Key Economic Area (NKEA) project led by Malaysia's Prime Minister, Najib Tun Razak.
"We have identified the need to establish Malaysia as a leading business tourism destination globally," said Minister of Tourism YB Dato' Sri Dr Ng Yen. "I am also pleased to note that it has been recognized as one of the NKEA's Entry Point Projects."
Under the Economic Transformation Programme’s NKEA project, Malaysia targets to grow business tourism arrivals from 5 percent to 8 percent of the overall tourist arrivals; which translates to a an increase from 1.2 million to 2.9 million by year 2020.
In addition, the business tourism industry is expected to contribute US$1.2 billion (EUR0.9 billion) in incremental Gross National Income (GNI) and 16,700 additional jobs to the nation by year 2020.
In 2009, Malaysia welcomed 1.2 million international business tourism visitors, generating an estimated US$3.2 billion (EUR2.4 billion) in visitor spending to the local economy. Statistics showed that the estimated spending for each international business tourism visitor is US$2,372 (EUR1,774); which is three times the spending of an average leisure visitor.
“The funding would provide a significant boost to Malaysia’s business tourism industry. Besides supporting the nation’s bid for international meetings in key industry sectors crucial to the economy, it will also help to stimulate growth in business tourism arrivals and foreign exchange earnings over the next decade,” said MyCEB CEO Zulkefli Hj Sharif.
Core strategies of the budget include strengthening the role and resources of MyCEB, the lead agency established by the Ministry of Tourism to assist meeting and event planners to secure and stage international business events in Malaysia.
“As part of the funding, US$8 million (EUR6 million) will be allocated for a subvention (referring to financial and non-financial incentives to attract international business) program," the MyCEB CEO said. "The program focuses on supporting bids for very targeted international business events which offer a high economic value to the nation. Support given will be based on an economic assessment, the agreed performance criteria as well as mutual benefits for the government and the local host organization.”