LETTER | At a media and industry players briefing on Mar 31, Visit Malaysia 2020 secretariat chief Ammar Abdul Ghapar said Tourism Malaysia was confident that its forecast of a 39 percent increase in visitor arrivals from 25.9 million in 2017 to 36 million in 2020 was achievable.
These are brave words indeed considering the fact that Tourism Malaysia has consistently fallen short of visitor arrival targets since 2013.
The target set for 2013 was 26.8 million but actual arrivals were 25,715,460 and the pattern was repeated over the next four years, with 27,437,315 arrivals in 2014 against the 28 million target, 25,721,251 in 2015 against a 29.4 million target, 26,757,392 in 2016 against a 30.5 million target and 25,948,459 last year against a 31.8 million target.
The target set for 2018 is 33.1 million, a four percent increase over the 2017 target but a massive 22.6 percent jump over actual arrivals.
Achieving a six percent increase this year would be quite a feat, as it would mean attracting a record high of 27.5 million visitors.
If we fall short of the target again for this year, which is almost certain, would Tourism Malaysia be setting 34.5 million for 2019 just to be consistent in raising higher targets and disregarding actual arrival figures?
Disturbingly, total visitor arrivals for last year were close to those in 2013 and 2015. We have not been on track to achieve 36 million for 2020 as envisaged under the Malaysia Tourism Transformation Plan, which was first announced in 2011.
Will Tourism Malaysia be introducing any new measures to promote visitor arrivals or will it dish out more of the same?
What are the contingency plans if politicians go overboard to exploit racial and religious issues in the run-up to the coming general election?
Escalation of hate speeches and fear-mongering are certain to drive away more tourists and investors from our country.
If so, visitor arrivals may even drop below 25 million this year.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.