Assalamualaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh and a very good afternoon.
YB DATO’ SRI AZALINA DATO’ OTHMAN SAID
MINISTER OF TOURISM MALAYSIA
YBHG. DATO’ DR. ONG HONG PENG
MINISTRY OF TOURISM MALAYSIA
YBRS. MR AMIRUDDIN ABU
MR. TONY MARIADASS
SHOPPING MALAYSIA SECRETARIAT
MR. JIM CHEAH
VICE PRESIDENT & COUNTRY MANAGER
MASTERCARD WORLDWIDE PTY LTD
Distinguished guests, Ladies and gentlemen
1. First of all, please allow me to thank the Ministry of Tourism Malaysia, for inviting me to introduce the new Malaysia Savings Sale 2008 campaign. This much awaited Malaysia year-end sale, has contributed much to the country’s economic development since its inception. It is now being rebranded at an opportune moment as the Malaysia Savings Sale 2008. This I believe is to underscore the importance of getting value for money when shopping, especially in today’s uncertain global economic climate.
2. And so the message from the re-branding of Malaysia’s year-end sale is quite clear: Malaysia is where you’ll find the best value-for-money shopping; This is where you can freely indulge in retail therapy, secure in the knowledge that you’re probably getting the best deal in the region. Throughout the 38 days of the Malaysia Savings Sale, Malaysia is THE place to be, to find value and variety.
Ladies and Gentlemen
3. When we speak of campaigns such as this, foremost in our minds is the Tourism industry. As an important contributor to our economy, the health of the industry is of great concern to us. We are heartened by the fact the industry worldwide is still performing well in spite of concerns of a global economic slowdown. According to the June edition of the World Tourism Organisation Barometer, the first results for 2008 suggest the relative stability of international tourism. In spite of uncertainties posed by the global economy, international tourist arrivals grew at around 5% between January and April 2008, compared to the same period of 2007.
4. All sub-regions of the world posted positive results in the first months of the year. Growth was fastest in the Middle East, North-East and South Asia, and Central and South America. By 2010 international arrivals are expected to reach 1 billion, and 1.6 billion by 2020.
5. In the Malaysian economic context, we can indeed be proud that the country has achieved tremendous progress. For the past decade or so, the tourism industry is the second income earner for the national economy, after manufacturing. Last year Malaysia registered 20.97 million tourists against RM46.1 billion in receipts. This year, for the period from January to August, Malaysia registered 14.7 million visitors. Under the 9th Malaysia Plan, the tourism target is to achieve 24.6 million tourists with RM59.4 billion in tourism receipts by the year 2010.
6. One of the main tourism components which contributed to the tourism receipts is shopping. As I understand it, shopping is the second major revenue-generating activity after payment for accommodation, contributing 26.6% or RM12.2 billion of the overall tourist expenditure breakdown in 2007.
7. Last year, the Government spent approximately RM10 million in promotions and advertising as well as organizing ground events and activities specifically to promote Shopping. The return was a whopping RM12.2 billion in tourist shopping receipts, which is roughly an impressive 120 fold return. Without a doubt, this underscores the importance of shopping as a key revenue generator for the country.
8. That being the case, we must also look into ways of enhancing the shopping experience for tourists, both domestic and international. Having seasonal Mega Sales such as the one we are launching today is obviously a keystone event. But beyond that we must look deep into ways and means of making shopping in Malaysia memorable. Whether it is in ensuring variety and the timely shipment and availability of the latest and most fashionable goods, or whether it is in the form of enhancing the services provided to shoppers, we must examine how shopping in Malaysia can be made distinct from shopping elsewhere. The government through the Ministry of Tourism will work with vendors as well as other parties in formulating a plan to enhance and subsequently further promote the Malaysian shopping experience worldwide.
9. It must be remembered however that although shopping is the second major activity, it will not enjoy this success if not for the support of other tourism components; like the airlines services, hotels, restaurants, tourism destinations and organised tours. In addition, tourists to Malaysia, especially from the West, also enjoy favourable currency exchange rates which often translate to incredible value when purchasing goods and services in the country. I am also conscious of the excellent efforts across the entire tourism industry to uphold our reputation as a high value destination – a destination that provides quality products at a realistic price. All these components of what has made the tourism industry successful must be continuously monitored and strengthened so that the overall well-being of the industry is permanently ensured.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
10. In the effort to sustain the increase of tourist receipts, there is also a need to look into extending the length of stay of tourists. It shouldn’t be too hard to accomplish, given Malaysia’s attributes. I often say that Malaysia is the best gateway into Asia, offering visitors a glimpse into all that is unique about this part of the world. Malaysia presents to every visitor “the best that the region has to offer” in terms of culture, festive celebrations, shopping, F&B, accommodation as well as entertainment.
11. Last year I was informed that the average length of stay per tourist was 6.3 nights. I strongly believe that the average length of stay can be increased at least by 30 percent by the year 2010, by focusing on tourists from the long haul market. The long haul market which is mostly European, are the top spenders, second only to those from the Middle-east countries. Tourists from the United Kingdom for example spent an average of RM3,699 with an average length of stay at 9.5 nights last year while the Danes spent RM2,991 while staying an average of 10.4 nights. Incidentally, I am of the view that there has to be a concerted effort on our part to attract more high-end tourists to spend time in Malaysia. We must study how Malaysia can be positioned as one of the preferred and popular destinations of the rich and famous, much like Sardinia in Italy and Honolulu in Hawaii, among others.
12. There is no reason why this cannot be done. Malaysia has become one of the world’s most talked about tourist destinations with unparalleled natural beauties, golden beaches, idyllic sunsets, great food and fantastic shopping. Of course Malaysian hospitality completes the whole package. We really do have it all, which is why we believe that the best promotion for Malaysia is Malaysia itself. There is no other country like Malaysia in terms of the experience it presents to the visitor. We must therefore intensify our efforts to position Malaysia as holiday destination that appeals to all segments of tourists, from the backpackers on a shoe-string budget, to the well heeled with their yachts and jets. This can be done, and it must be done if we are to become the first choice in holiday destinations.
Ladies and gentlemen
13. Tourism is and will continue to be one of Malaysia’s premier industries – a sustainable, high value, high performing sector which we must continue to strengthen. The industry is a dynamic one, changing with the seasons evolving along with trends and preferences of today’s world travellers. As a country that takes pride in its touristic appeal, we must always have a finger on the pulse of the industry. Campaigns and promotions cannot be static. We must find new and innovative ways, perhaps even unconventional ways, to make Malaysia stand out as the destination of choice for visitors from across the globe.
14. This re-branding of the Malaysia year-end sale is one such example of adapting to the changes that continuously unfold around us. Tourism Malaysia has done very well in creating ‘brand-awareness” in marketing Malaysia all around the world. I am confident that as we move forward Tourism Malaysia will continue to fine tune their strategies, review their approaches and explore new avenues in keeping Malaysia’s Tourism industry vibrant and dynamic.