Malaysia is the top tourist destination in Asia due to its good tourism industry

Last Updated on June 19, 2024 9:44 am

Malaysia’s current tourist arrivals have doubled compared to last year after reopening the tourism sector following a shutdown from 2020 to 2022 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Which reveals the positive potential of Malaysia in the recovery of the tourism industry.

According to the government’s Tourism Malaysia statistics, the country received 20.14 million international tourists in 2023, up from 10.07 million in 2022, and generated RM71.3 billion in tourism revenue. Tourist arrivals increased to 26.1 million in 2019.

According to Tourism Malaysia, 27.3 million tourists arrived in the first quarter of 2024 and tourists spent a total of 102.7 billion ringgit.

According to the MasterCard Economics Institute’s (MEI) fifth annual report, Malaysia’s tourism industry is on the right track of recovery and as a result some categories – such as shopping and dining – have recorded higher than pre-pandemic levels.

The report is based on a unique analysis of MasterCard spending and third-party data and anonymized MasterCard transaction data for tourist travel across 74 markets around the world, including 13 spots in the Asia Pacific region and Malaysia.

The report, titled Breaking Boundaries on Travel Trends 2024, analyzes key tourism trends and identifies tourist hotspots in the Asia Pacific region (APEC). MEI has determined the top 10 trending tourist destinations worldwide based on tourist arrivals in the 12 months (ending March 2024), with APEC countries occupying half of the list.

Malaysia ranks 6th on the list, second only to the APEC countries. Then Australia is 7th, South Korea is 8th and Indonesia is 10th as the most popular tourist country. Japan, meanwhile, rose 0.9% to take the top spot. By the end of 2023, travelers from Asia accounted for 79.4% of the country’s total travelers. APEC received 3,081,600 international tourists as of March 2024.

Tourists in APEC countries (excluding Australia and New Zealand) tend to stay longer and spend more. It shows the confidence of tourists towards the countries. It found that through March 2024, travelers to APEC extended their trip by an average of 1.2 days to 7.4 days, up from the 2019 average of 6.1 days. Access to quality services and products at low prices in the destination country, warm weather and favorable currency exchange rates have been identified as the main reasons for the growth of tourists in APEC countries outside the Americas and Europe.

It found that, both globally and in ASEAN, travelers increased their vacation by almost one more day per trip. Looking specifically at Malaysia, tourists are spending an average of 6.4 days – a positive increase. Tourists stayed an average of 5.6 days before Covid-19.

Tourist shopping trends in the ASEAN market have shown that tourists spend significantly on casual and apparel from April 2023 to March 2024. Malaysia recorded a 73.8% increase in 12 months compared to the same period last year but the number of luxury clothing shopping tourists fell by 47.1%.

ASEAN markets also saw a trend towards tourism spending more on dining, with Malaysia recording the highest growth in casual dining, totaling 82.8%. It recorded a 50.4% growth in fine dining.

Interestingly, Thailand is the only ASEAN market to record higher growth in small dining than casual dining, 42.5% compared to 41.6% respectively. The Thai capital, Bangkok, currently has more than 30 Michelin-starred restaurants.

Thailand is expected to return to its pre-pandemic economic level by the end of 2024. It is receiving more tourists from ASEAN (19.9% ​​above 2019 levels as of February 2024), South Asia (21.6%) and Europe (1.8%).
Visa waiver in APEC for tourists from China will undoubtedly boost tourism in countries like Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia. Outbound travel from mainland China, in particular, which now stands at 80.3% of 2019 levels, continues to recover – a favorite among Chinese tourists for post-pandemic domestic travel.

Like most travelers worldwide, Chinese tourists are prioritizing experiences, spending 10% on it in 2024 compared to 7% in 2023.

Spending on experiences and overnight stays currently accounts for 12% of tourism spend, the highest point in the past five years, with Australian tourists being the highest spenders globally. Their spending is higher than the global average of 12%.

“Consumers in the Asia Pacific region have a strong appetite and desire to travel and are increasingly conscious of ensuring they get the best value and unforgettable experience from their travels,” David Mann, chief economist, Asia Pacific, MasterCard, said in a statement. He added that “businesses targeting tourism dollars will need to review their current strategies and shift them as necessary, to maintain their appeal to travelers.”

The MEI also reported that nine out of 10 all-time high spending for the cruise and airline industries were recorded in the first three months of 2024, respectively. Cruise transactions worldwide also increased by 11.8% compared to March 2024.

Malaysia can capitalize on this growing interest in cruises by introducing more attractive cruise packages that offer the best to tourists and the tourist experience.

Meanwhile, MEI’s analysis of flight booking data shows that the top summer destination is Munich, boosted by the German city’s month-long hosting of the UEFA 2024 football championship (June 14 to July 14). Tokyo is second, Bali (Indonesia) sixth and Bangkok seventh.

For ASEAN travelers, especially from Malaysia, Bali is one of the top three destinations for the period June to August 2024, along with Shanghai (China) and Hanoi (Vietnam).

Meanwhile, Kuala Lumpur is among the top three destinations for travelers to Singapore, along with Bangkok and Perth (Australia).

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