Thoughts Bernama – – Budget 2024: A catalyst for tourism and sustainability

Opinions on current events from thought leaders, columnists, and editors.

Written by Akmal Adanan

The formulation of the 2024 Budget by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who is also Finance Minister, holds great expectations for the country’s tourism industry. The tourism sector has been considered an important contributor to Malaysia’s economy due to its rich cultural diversity, natural treasures and unique attractions.

Therefore, the budget allocates significant resources to revitalize the tourism sector and emphasizes the important role of the tourism sector in economic growth.

Budget highlights for tourism and creative industries

Firstly, one of the key developments is that Tahun Melawat Malaysia (Visit Malaysia Year ) has been decided to be revived.

This initiative is a bold step towards reinvigorating Malaysia’s position as one of the world’s leading tourist destinations. To achieve this, the government has set aside RM350 million for promotional activities aimed at restoring Malaysia’s status as a globally preferred tourist destination.

These initiatives include organizing the Kempen Melawat Malaysia 2026 (Visit Malaysia 2026 campaign), collaborating with the industry to promote domestic and international tourism, supporting over 200 culture enthusiasts in hosting arts and culture events, and supporting international Matching grants for charter flights to improve access, and funding for Islamic Tourism Centers (ITCs) to enhance Muslim-friendly tourism in Malaysia.

The budget recognizes the importance of preserving and maintaining tourist attractions, historic sites, and cultural heritage sites.

In addition, RM20 million has been allocated to state governments for the maintenance and rehabilitation of tourist attractions such as Tasik Timah Taso in Perlis, Kenong Rimba Park in Pahang, and Pantai Teluk Kemang in Negeri Sembilan. . In addition, RM80 million has been allocated for the conservation and restoration of potential UNESCO-listed heritage sites such as Gua Nia in Sarawak, Lembah Bujang in Kedah and Royal Belum in Perak.

The donation of RM20 million to Think City to reinvigorate Kuala Lumpur as a creative and cultural hub is a testament to the government’s forward-looking approach.

Contribution of tourism industry to national development

The budget demonstrates the government’s understanding of the important role tourism plays in driving Malaysia’s economic recovery through employment, foreign exchange earnings and promoting sustainable development. Recognizing the significant contribution of tourism and manufacturing to national development, the government is committed to introducing new initiatives under the Malaysian Visa Liberalization Plan.

The three actions outlined in the budget are:

  • To simplify the approval process for employment paths for strategic investors in key sectors.
  • Introducing a long-term field trip pass for international students who have completed their studies.
  • Strengthen visa-on-arrival, social visit passes and provide multiple-entry visas to facilitate the entry of tourists and investors, especially from India and China.

The government also agreed to ease the current conditions for Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) applications, with the aim of encouraging the influx of foreign tourists and investors to Malaysia.

The need to invest in technology and AI applications

While the budgetary allocation to the tourism sector is commendable, it is essential to emphasize the importance of technology, particularly artificial intelligence (AI) applications, in making the industry more competitive in the future. From 2024 onwards, the global tourism landscape will rapidly evolve, with travelers becoming increasingly tech-savvy and relying on digital tools to plan and experience their trips.

Therefore, Malaysia must not only keep pace with these trends but also strive to lead in technological innovation. By harnessing the power of data analytics, AI provides valuable insights into traveler preferences, behaviors, and emerging trends. This helps adjust tourism products and services to evolving demands through efficient data-driven decision-making.

This technology also enables personalized experiences for travelers. For example, chatbots that can provide real-time assistance to travelers can help find the best attractions, accommodation, and dining options based on their preferences. In supporting Tafun Melawat Malaysia 2026 efforts, AI can play a key role in targeted marketing and promotion. Analyze consumer data to identify potential markets, create personalized marketing campaigns, and track their effectiveness.

Budget allocation for AI is also important to optimize operations, reduce costs, and increase efficiency within the tourism sector. For example, AI-powered chatbots and automated hotel check-in systems can streamline processes and save time and resources.

Therefore, the utilization of AI in tourism can significantly improve the visitor experience in Malaysia, improve operational efficiency, and contribute to the sustainable growth of the industry.

Determining the quality of human resources in tourism

Improving and retaining the quality of human resources in the tourism industry is essential to providing excellent service and ensuring the sustainability of the tourism industry. A well-planned budget plays a key role in achieving this goal.

To ensure readiness to receive tourists, it is recommended that the government allocate a specific budget for human resource development. Key areas for governments to consider include education and training, outstanding customer service, supporting language and cultural training, quality control and certification, and data and technology implementation.

Further incentives for domestic tourists

Incorporating incentives for domestic tourists into the budget is an economic strategy with wide-ranging benefits. The government could introduce several incentives, including tax credits, youth and student discounts on travel vouchers, travel subsidies for vulnerable groups, local tourism packages, and benefits for frequent travelers.

Promoting local tourism can stimulate economic activity, support local businesses, promote infrastructure development, protect cultural heritage, contribute to environmental sustainability, and promote national cohesion. can.

Paving the way to a brighter tourism future

In conclusion, the 2024 National Budget holds great promise for Malaysia’s tourism industry as it recognizes the importance of the tourism industry in economic development. To ensure a bright future for this sector, it is important that governments allocate more resources to technology, especially AI applications, and train more AI tourism professionals to drive substantial economic growth in the tourism sector. It is expected.

Dealing with a competitive global tourism industry, Malaysia is leveraging cutting-edge technology to stay ahead of these changes, provide real-time insights, and make concerted efforts to remain attractive to international travelers. must be done.

This collaborative strategic investment between tourism products, marketing and technology will strengthen competitiveness, stimulate economic growth, provide tourists with a personalized and immersive experience, and contribute to the sustainability of the industry. To do.

— Bernama

Akmal Adanan is a senior lecturer in the Department of Hotel and Tourism Management at UiTM Melaka Campus.

(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of BERNAMA)

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