By Rafiq Vayani
DUBAI: Malaysia recorded 4,233,425 tourist arrivals for the first quarter of 2020. This marks a decrease of 36.8% compared to the same period in 2019.
The tourist expenditure for the first quarter recorded a total of RM12.5 billion, a decrease of 41.5% compared to RM21.4 billion registered for the same period in 2019. Per capita expenditure also showed a decline of 7.4% from RM3,201.8 in 2019 to RM2,964.5 this year. The average length of stay (ALOS) in Malaysia saw a decrease of 1.9 nights from 6.0 nights in 2019 to 4.1 nights.
From January to March 2020, Malaysia received less tourists each month compared to the corresponding month of the previous year. Negative growth had been observed for tourists from every regional market namely short-haul market (-37.3%), medium-haul market (-41.4) and long-haul market (-22.5%) from January until March 2020.
The top ten tourist generating markets were Singapore (1,541,591), Indonesia (701,142), China (401,067), Thailand (331,417), India (153,727), Brunei (135,412), South Korea (118,571), Japan (73,154), Australia (72,047) and Philippines (64,257).
ASEAN countries remain as Malaysia’s top contributors in tourist arrivals with a share of 67.8% or a number of 2,868,359 tourists. However, this is a stark contrast compared to 2019, where Malaysia received 4,576,636 tourists from ASEAN for the first quarter of the year, which translates to a decrease of 37.3% from this region.
Malaysia’s medium-haul market, which includes East Asia (China, South Korea and Japan) and South Asia (India and Pakistan) contributed a share of 20.3% or 859,273 tourists. Last year, Malaysia received 1,466,993 tourist arrivals from this market for the same period.
As many as 505,307 tourists from the long-haul market visited Malaysia from January until March 2020. This total made up the remaining 11.9% share of total tourist arrivals in Malaysia throughout the three months. In comparison, the number of tourists from this segment who visited Malaysia last year was 652,032, marking a decrease of 22.5%. Long-haul market includes tourists from West Asia, Central Asia, Americas, Oceania, Europe and Africa.
In terms of the number of excursionists, or the daily visitors to the country, Malaysia recorded a total of 1,688,452 arrivals from January to March 2020, a decrease of 27.1% compared to 2,315,440 excursionists who visited Malaysia in the same period last year.
Malaysia is not alone in registering negative growth in the number of tourist arrivals. According to the data from the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), Malaysia’s neighbouring ASEAN countries also recorded a significant decline in the number of tourists including Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam and Indonesia. The spread of Covid-19 virus which prompted countries to impose a ban on international travel was cited as the cause of the severe decline.