Tourist arrival figures too good to be true

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We probably received 26 million foreign visitor arrivals and not tourist arrivals this year.

In June, Deputy Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Khairul Firdaus Akhbar Khan said the ministry is confident of achieving the target of 16.1 million tourist arrivals this year. But according to a recent Bernama report, tourist arrivals until Nov 15 have already hit 26 million!

If so, total tourist arrivals for this year are likely to surpass the record high of 27.44 million in Visit Malaysia Year 2014. This cannot be true as tourism industry players, such as accommodation providers, have not been handling such a high volume of tourists.

The latest statistics found on Tourism Malaysia’s website are until June this year. There were 9,160,069 tourist arrivals for the first half of this year. But to record 26 million tourist arrivals until Nov 15 would mean that there were 17 million arrivals within the four and a half months!

That would be an average of 3,777,777 tourist arrivals per month or 45,333,333 in a year!

However, those who can tell the difference between tourists, excursionists and visitors may be able to offer a possible explanation. I have written many times before that we had 26.1 million tourist arrivals in 2019 and another 8.9 million excursionist arrivals in the same year.

In other words, we received 35 million foreign visitor arrivals in 2019.

For the first half of 2023, we received 3,770,166 excursionist arrivals or a total of 12,930,235 foreign visitor arrivals. It may be possible that there were just over 13 million visitor arrivals from Jul 1 to Nov 15.

Therefore, we probably received 26 million foreign visitor arrivals and not tourist arrivals from Jan 1 to Nov 15, 2023.

The views expressed here are strictly those of YS Chan from Kuala Lumpur.