Malaysia launches US$1.2 million tourism fund to boost arrivals for 2020

Malaysia has announced a new US$1.2 million tourism fund to provide a long-awaited and needed thrust for the inbound tourism industry stakeholders in their promotional efforts, as the country aims for 30 million tourist arrivals for Visit Malaysia Year 2020.

This is the maiden offer of such a fund by the Malaysian government and if it is well utilised by the tourism industry, it is likely to be continued next year, according to a statement made by Musa Yusof, director-general of Tourism Malaysia.

Musa revealed that some European tour operators had excluded Malaysia from their brochures due to a lack of demand. The reduction in Tourism Malaysia’s advertising budgetmay have resulted in reduced awareness in the market leading to low demand.

The fund, offered by the Malaysia Ministry of Finance, is a matching grant that can be used in the promotional and marketing efforts – such as the participation in both international and domestic tourism events. Initiatives that are eligible for the reimbursement fall into three main categories: participation in travel fairs and exhibitions, organising of roadshows and sales missions/road shows and business events.

The grant will operate on the basis of reimbursable financial assistance where eligible companies, such as hospitality providers, tour operators, integrated resorts, or inbound agents, as well as travel, hospitality and shopping associations and community-based tourism projects, may claim 50 per cent of the actual cost of their promotional expenditure or the maximum amount allowed for each project category.

The maximum amount that can be reimbursed for each project are:

For participation in international travel trade and consumer fairs and exhibitions held in Malaysia a participant can claim up to RM (Malaysian Ringgit) 5,000 per event; domestic travel trade fairs and exhibitions can claim up to RM5,000 per event; international travel trade and consumer fairs and exhibitions overseas can claim up to RM15,000 per event; promotional programmes for business events in Malaysia can claim up to RM5,000 per event; and promotions for business events overseas can claim to RM10,000 per event.

To be eligible, companies must be registered and licensed in Malaysia and have been in business for more than a year. Applications are to be submitted 21 days before the date of the programme/activity and approved projects will receive the grant within 14 days, explained Yusof. A cap of RM200,000 has also been imposed on each grant recipient to ensure equal distribution of the fund.

Inbound tour operators and meeting planners in Malaysia have expressed support for the grant. Many wish to promote their destination for MICE in the burgeoning Indian incentive travel market

Malaysia Tourism Council president, Uzaidi Udanis, concurred: “This grant will provide opportunities for small and medium-sized companies with smaller budgets to market Malaysia internationally. It will encourage more new players to come into the scene, and this means new ideas and new market penetration.”