Deputy minister downplays impact of FAA downgrade on Visit Malaysia 2020

Azril Annuar

Deputy Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Muhammad Bakhtiar Wan Chik expects that Malaysia will still achieve its target of RM100 billion in tourism receipts and 30 million visitors next year. —Picture by Firdaus Latif

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 14 — The Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry conceded the safety rating downgrade of the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM) by the US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) will indirectly affect Visit Malaysia Year 2020.

However, Deputy Minister Muhammad Bakhtiar Wan Chik told Parliament during Question Time that it will not affect carriers that do not have codeshare agreements with US-based airlines.

“I admit that indirectly it will have an impact on foreign tourists with CAAM being downgraded to Category Two. But I have checked with a few airlines and they told me it doesn’t affect them unless there is codesharing.

“This will impact MAS because it has codesharing with American Airlines.

“At the same time, the majority of tourists visiting us, more than 90 per cent comes from Asian countries, not the US or Europe,” explained Muhammad Bakhtiar in his reply to a supplementary question from Kepala Batas (BN) MP Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican.

The deputy minister expects that Malaysia will still achieve its target of RM100 billion in tourism receipts and 30 million visitors next year.

Earlier, he told the Lower House that from January to June this year the amount of tourist spending increased by 6.8 per cent to RM41.69 billion from RM39 billion in the same period last year.

Statistics revealed that most of the receipts came from the retail industry which represented 35.3 per cent of the foreign tourists’ total expenditure.

In his reply to Sipitang (PH) MP Yamani Hafez Musa, Muhammad Bakhtiar said that in 2018 foreign tourists’ expenditure had a 2.4 per cent increase to RM84.14 billion from RM82.17 billion in 2017.

In the same period, domestic tourism saw an 11.4 per cent leap to RM92.6 billion from RM83.1 billion in revenue collection.

“The tourism industry recorded a positive growth in 2018 and had contributed RM220.6 billion or 15.2 per cent to the GDP when compared to 2017 which stood at RM200.4 billion or 14.6 per cent.

“It also created 3.5 million jobs or every one out of four jobs, representing 25.3 per cent of Malaysia’s total workforce,” said Muhammad Bakhtiar.

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