Tourism industry in Malaysia started from the early 1970s and has become the secondhighest foreign exchange earner for the country after the manufacturing sector (NTP2004-2010 Main Report, 2004. pg 9). The sector is predicted to grow at the rate of 6.9% per year and contribute almost RM30 billion
to the nation‟s economy
(Bernama News, 19Mac, 2004). In the early growth of the industry, tourism was more focussed at beachresorts as a destination for relaxation. It was in the 1990s that it extended to include other attractions like shopping, events, theme park and nature-based. The main markets for Malaysia tourism are the neighbouring ASEAN countries especially Singapore, Thailand,Brunei and Indonesia. While others include Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea, China,Taiwan, India, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and the United States of America. The Malaysian tourism industry had undergone multiple challenges before assuming its position in the world tourism destination map, abreast of the other popular destinationsworldwide. The unstable world politics, SARS and challenge posed by the other ASEAN
countries competing to draw tourists had initiated Malaysia to set its own strategy indiversifying the tourist attractions. Various studies were undertaken to identify the tourism demand characteristics andinternational trend apart from define the potential products to be promoted. As such,Malaysia had increased the tourism promotions, arranged various programmes andevents, as well as diversified and upgraded the tourism-related facilities.
“Malaysia Truly Asia”
is the tagline which is internationally recognized as a uniquelyMalaysian brand to promote tourism in Malaysia. The branding first established 1999 hadalso played a major role as the marketing strategy to highlight the Malaysia uniquecharacteristics. The uniqueness portrayed through
is the diversityof tourism products offered which comprise almost all of the attractions that exist in theother Asian countries. Greater emphasis was placed on attracting tourists from the short-haul and regional markets of ASEAN, China, India, Japan and West Asia.
Tourism Promotion Programs In Malaysia and the Achievements
Visit Malaysia Year Campaign
Visit Malaysia Year Campaign which was started in 1990 became the starting point for the expansion of the
country‟s tourism industry
. It succeeded in attractingaround 7.45 million international tourists (Rajah 1)compared to 4.85 million in the previous year. Due to thesuccess, the Visit Malaysia Year Campaign was repeatedin 1994 and 2007. Visit Malaysia Year 2007 waslaunched in conjunction with the celebration of 50 yearsof Malaysian independence,whereby 240 events and festivals were organized throughoutthe year. These include the floral festival, cultural performances, Kuala Lumpur International Arts Festival, National Water Festival, Colours of Malaysia, PenangInternational Lantern Festival, Gawai Dayak and Borneo cultural festival, Colour andFlavours of Malaysia parade and World Firework Competition. With the variety of events