Malaysia is by many considered one of Asia’s hidden gems. For decades, it’s been overlooked by mass tourism — focused more on its neighbors Thailand and Singapore.
However, the country has recently seen a dramatic increase in the number of international tourism arrivals. Holidaymakers are attracted by its stunning nature, multicultural society, world-renowned food, and more.
The Malaysian government started launching a series of initiatives to support this wave of visitors and turn Malaysia into a global destination — one example being the new Malaysia eVisa that allows tourists to apply for a Malaysian visa entirely online in minutes, saving them long queues at the embassy or consulate.
The visit Malaysia 2020 campaign aims to attract 30 million tourists thanks to projects of digitalization, infrastructure development, and more.
Malaysia: a Global Tourism Destination
Since its independence over 50 years ago, the Malaysian economy has been growing steadily — an average of 6.5 % GDP increase per year. Tourism and medical tourism played a big role in the national growth and as early as the 1990s, the government launched the first “Malaysia, truly Asia” campaign. It was a great success, with over 7.4 million tourists visiting the country.
Since then, the sector kept expanding. In 2018, more than 25 million travelers chose Malaysia for their holidays. Although the majority come from Singapore, the UK, Australia, and the US feature among the top-15 countries of origin for Malaysian tourism.
Today, Malaysia ranks 9th in the world for arrivals and the tourism sector is the third largest source of foreign exchange income for the country. Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir expressed great satisfaction for these results: “[…] What we had envisaged then has come true. Tourist arrivals have increased steadily and Malaysia has truly become popular and able to hold our own against other global destinations”, he said, “This is something that we can be proud of, and should serve to motivate us to double our promotional efforts of Malaysia in the future.”
What Is Truly Asia Malaysia?
In July 2019, the Prime Minister launched the Visit Malaysia 2020 campaign officially during a ceremony held at Kuala Lumpur International Airport. The goal of the campaign is to attract 30 million international tourists. The focus will be on ecotourism, arts, and culture.
Following through with the Prime Minister’s words, Malaysia is expanding and innovating a multitude of projects designed to attract and support tourism. As much as RM 500 million ($ 120 million) has been invested in handicraft and homestay businesses, and an extra RM 1 billion ($ 240 million) has been added to the Malaysian Tourism Infrastructure Fund.
Moreover, the Prime Minister announced the country’s keen focus on digitalization and smart tourism.
Why to Visit Malaysia Now
The Malaysian government is keenly aware of the natural treasure the country can count on: 130 million-years-old pristine rainforests, idyllic beaches, and national parks await nature lovers from around the world. It’s not by chance that a red hibiscus, a wild green fern, and a brilliant blue rhinoceros hornbill are the images used to promote the Visit Malaysia 2020 campaign.
Ecotourism will be a pivotal part of the campaign. The national investment will be in sustainable ecotourist development and the smart eco-management of tourist destinations. Travelers can expect a once-in-a-lifetime experience — they will get to explore the best of the Malaysian natural wonders, knowing that they are contributing to natural preservation initiatives as well as the local economy.
Moreover, the government intends to involve local communities in the campaign — no matter how remote. Malaysia is one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world. Tourists will be welcomed by the multi-cultural, multi-ethnic Malaysian society and will get to taste one of the finest cuisines in the world.
Finally, traveling to Malaysia will get easier by the day. Airlines and international airports partnered with the government to strengthen the infrastructure and launch new international routes.