Malaysia will be celebrating its 61st National Day on the 31st August 2018. This year’s national day celebration
themed Sayangi Malaysiaku which translates to “Love My Malaysia” will be held in Putrajaya, the administrative capital of Malaysia.
This year’s National Day logo showcases three individuals raising their hands with a heart connecting the three together. The logo aptly titled, Sayangi Malaysiaku symbolizes unity and harmony amongst the multi-ethnic communities living in Malaysia. The usage of the colour blue, white, yellow and red represents the four colours available on Jalur Gemilang, the Malaysian flag. This year’s National Day celebration is upped a notch with the selection of an upbeat song as the official National Day theme song entitled, Kita Punya Malaysia or Our Malaysia by Bunkface, a Malaysian punk rock band.
The National Day or Hari Kebangsaan is a national holiday in Malaysia and is annually observed with a national parade to commemorate the declaration of independence of the then Federation of Malaya from the British Empire.
Malaysia Trade / Economic Development
The Malaysian economy has made tremendous growth since independence 1957. The transformation of the economy from one based on primary commodities to a dynamic and vibrant industrialising nation is attributed to a variety of factors. Malaysia's political and economic stability, prudent and pragmatic investor friendly business policies, cost-productive workforce, developed infrastructure comparable to that of any western country and a host of other amenities makes this country an enticing place for investors. Structural policies carried out over the decades have resulted in a highly open and diversified economy with multiple sources of growth.
In 2017, amid the phase of global uncertainty, Malaysia retained its standing as a key competitive nation. The Malaysian economy recorded a robust growth of 5.9%, supported by faster expansion in both private and public sector spending. Trade registered stellar performance, growing at the highest rate in 13 years. Trade surged by 19.4% to RM1.77 trillion, compared to RM1.45 trillion recorded the previous year. Malaysia was ranked as the 25th largest exporter, 26th largest importer and 25th largest trading nation in 2017 based on ranking by the World Trade Organisation.
In terms of competitiveness, the World Bank Doing Business 2018 Report ranked Malaysia at 24th best place in the world. The World Bank's competitiveness criteria in the Doing Business ranking include ease of starting a business, licensing approvals and ease of cross-border trading. This is a good indication of the facilitative environment for business to strive.
In terms of investment, Malaysia recorded approved investments of RM197.1 billion in the manufacturing, services and primary sectors in 2017. The investment performance demonstrates continued investor confidence in Malaysia. This is also testament to Malaysia's structural economic fundamentals, which underscores the resilience of the country’s economy. Malaysia welcomes high quality investments particularly in new growth areas with emerging technologies, capital-intensive, high value-added, knowledge-based, skills-intensive and export-oriented industries.
Located in the heart of ASEAN, Malaysia is capable of offering MNCs and investors unique access to a steady stream of talent, a modern business ecosystem, world-class infrastructure and connectivity, and competitive cost advantages and incentive packages. MNC’s can use Malaysia as a base for conducting their regional and global operations to manage, control, and support their key functions.
Malaysia is targeting capital, design and R&D-intensive projects that have a high GNI impact plus strong linkages to domestic industries. Sectors such as chemicals, medical devices, electrical and electronics, aerospace, machinery and equipment, biotechnology, oil and gas and medical devices are among the sectors identified as central to Malaysia's transition to a high-income nation. These sectors are deemed as important industrial contributors to the national industrial growth.
The services sector in Malaysia is one of the main pillars of the national economy. The sector’s contribution to the economy has increased steadily over the years. In 2017, the services sector contributed 54.5% to GDP compared with 54.3% in 2016. Opportunities in the services sector include ICT, oil and gas services, private healthcare, private higher education, tourism and professional services. The Services Sector Blueprint introduced in 2015 has outlined strategies and initiatives to promote the services sector to achieve 56.5% GDP in 2020.
Focus is also given to SME development where for 2017 SMEs recorded GDP growth of 7.2% and continued to outperform the overall economy since 2004. SMEs contributed 37.1% to GDP in 2017 compared with 36.6% in 2016 and employed about 6.9 million workers.
Technological advancement has become an integral part of Malaysia's growth as an industrialised nation. With the help of technology, Malaysia is steadfast in providing for the modern day requirements of investor companies based in the country. Malaysia is one of the most technologically developed countries amongst industrialising nations in the ASEAN region. The nation's persistent drive to engage modern technologies proves to be a great advantage to manufacturers in Malaysia.
Malaysia has adapted to change by embracing new opportunities made available through the Fourth Industrial Revolution mainly through the adoption of smart manufacturing processes and technologies to enhance production flexibility and efficiency. Machine to machine applications are an emerging field and opportunities are available to investors to venture into sensor technology projects in Malaysia. New investments in advanced Internet of Things (IoT) enabled technologies and eco-system will expand logistics value chains, including warehouse operation and freight transportation.
The conducive business environment in Malaysia has made the country one of the world's top investment destinations for offshore manufacturing operations. Malaysia has to date attracted more than 5,000 foreign companies from more than 40 countries that have established their operations here. Many of them continue to expand and diversify their operations in the country, reflecting their confidence in Malaysia as the preferred destination for their business ventures.
Increasing competition regionally and globally as well as rapid advancement in technology will make the years ahead more challenging. Malaysia will continue to address them with fortitude and resilience, continuing with its endeavors to shape the economic landscape of the nation. Given the speed of technological advancement, Malaysia will stay alert, continuously adapting and making progress in a new environment characterised by disruptive technology. The Government is committed to strengthen Malaysia’s pro-business environment with prudent and pragmatic policies to ensure a conducive ecosystem as we continue to seek both capital and technology injection into the Malaysian economy.
Malaysia’s Tourism Transformation
It’s no secret that in the last decade, Malaysia has transformed into a major tourist destination in the Southeast Asian region. With the resounding success of the ‘Malaysia Truly Asia’ branding in 1999, tourist arrivals and receipts have since increased exponentially, pushing Malaysia into the elite of tourism destinations.
Today, that brand has earned Malaysia its popularity, and accolades from all across the world have poured in - ‘Best Asian Destination’ by the World Travel Awards, World’s Top Muslim Friendly Destination by Mastercard Crescent Rating Global Muslim Travel Index, and ‘Best Eco-Vacation’ destination by the National Geographic Traveler, for example.
On top of that, Kuala Lumpur, the nation’s capital, was named the 2nd Best Shopping Destination in Asia Pacific by Globe Shopper Index in 2012, and was also the 4th Best Shopping City in the World for two consecutive years, as voted by CNN in 2012 and 2013.
The ‘Malaysia Truly Asia’ brand has helped increase tourist arrivals and receipts from 10.2 million tourists and RM17.3 billion in tourism revenues in the year 2000, to 25.9 million arrivals and RM82.2 billion in receipts in 2017. By 2020, the government is targeting to welcome 36 million tourists with RM168 billion in tourist receipts.
Such big numbers reflect the government’s emphasis on the tourism industry. Under the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP), tourism has been identified as a key growth industry for the economy, with focus given to developing tourism in the areas of affordable luxury, ecotourism, family-friendly destination, business tourism, and events, entertainment and sports.
Supporting growth through new developments
The past few years have seen Malaysia building towards these goals. The Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (KLIA2) was opened in May 2014 to cater to the explosive growth in low-cost travel industry. Prior to that, the Klang Valley Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) project was launched in 2011 and today sees the expansion of the urban transport system which not only improves the liveability of the Klang Valley but also boosts tourism to the area.
New tourist attractions have also cropped up. In terms of shopping, Malaysia welcomed its first premium outlet in Johor, and this was quickly followed by the opening of the Mitsui Outlet Park near Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Freeport A’Famosa Outlet in Melaka, and Genting Highlands Premium Outlet in Pahang.
Among self-professed shopaholics, Malaysia is indeed a retail haven. Trendy fashion, international brands and prestige labels have made their homes in some of Malaysia’s most chic and exciting shopping malls. In major cities, spa facilities have mushroomed, providing visitors with a relaxing and healthy experience amid serene and soothing surroundings. Men will also find the shopping experience here to be worthwhile. Electronic items and high-tech gadgets like mobile phones and cameras are competitively-priced.
Meanwhile, the shopping precinct of Bukit Bintang-Kuala Lumpur City Centre also saw a facelift with better infrastructure including a covered walkway for shoppers to go from one mall to another, while efforts were carried out to boost the vibrancy of the shopping precinct with more events and activities.
The implementation of a National Sales Campaign promoted Malaysia as a shopping paradise offering great value for money. Three major sales events are scheduled each year, namely Malaysia Super Sale in March, Malaysia Mega Sale Carnival from June to August and Malaysia Year-End Sale throughout November and December, with shoppers benefiting from the huge discounts on goods.
Besides shopping, Malaysia is also a family-friendly destination. It is home to many international theme parks, including Asia’s first LEGOLAND theme park, KidZania, and Hello Kitty Town. Meanwhile, works are underway for the 20th Century Fox theme park in Genting Highlands, while Movie Animation Park Studios (MAPS) which recently opened in Perak is enjoying the spotlight.
Further south in Johor, the Desaru Coast development is taking shape, transforming 17 km of coastline into a premium integrated beachfront resort and lifestyle development that will see, among others, two championship golf courses, an adventure water theme park, a conference centre, a retail village, riverside dining and hotels from the Westin, Hard Rock and Anantara brands.
New opportunities in niche tourism
For avid bikers, motorcycle holidays in Malaysia is a niche attraction that the country is promoting in recent years to draw a unique group of tourists who appreciate and enjoy high-value special interests in their lives. Indeed, Malaysia is a great place for motorcycle holidays as it does not only have well-connected highways, but also scenic countryside, historic places, lots of delicious food and beautiful culture for everyone to enjoy along the journey.
Another new attraction that is being promoted in Malaysia is the lung-washing packages. Behind the quirky name, the message is one that’s clear – Malaysia’s thick tropical jungles, temperate highlands and pristine islands and beaches deliver a fresh and wholesome experience in nature that will bring many health benefits to visitors.
These attractions, added with Malaysia’s record for stability and security, have also earned its popularity as the annual destination not only for visitors, but for events as well. Major annual events, such as Penang World Music Festival, the Rainforest World Music Festival, and the MotoGP, are just some of the major events which attract visitors every year.
Healthy potential in wellness tourism
Besides that, Malaysia is also fast becoming a strong competitor in the global health and medical tourism sector. Given the potential of health tourism as a foreign exchange earner, the government has taken a series of proactive measures to enhance Malaysia as a preferred health tourism destination, offering high quality yet affordable health and medical services.
The most popular medical tourism destinations in Malaysia among medical tourists are Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Melaka, and Johor. Penang, for instance, has been a destination for medical travellers for many decades and is responsible for 50% to 60% of the total number of medical travellers coming into Malaysia. The state offers excellent hospitals, an end-to-end service, and an active medical tourism association.
According to the Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC), Malaysia received an estimated 1 million medical tourists last year, which consists of international patients, including students, expatriates, holidaymakers, etc. Most of the medical travellers are from the ASEAN region, with the majority coming from Indonesia and Singapore, followed by China and India.
Competitive medical fees and modern medical facilities are two vital factors that make Malaysia a popular destination among health tourists. Malaysia offers a wide choice of state-of-the-art private medical centres boasting an impressive array of sophisticated diagnosis, therapeutic, and in-patient facilities. These establishments are well-equipped and staffed to ensure the highest level of professionalism, safety and care to patients.
Opportunities in business events
Business tourism is also a key focus of Malaysia’s tourism promotions. Hence, the Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau (MyCEB) was established in 2009 to help develop this area. Since then, Malaysia has supported a total of 1,726 business events which translates to some RM8.8 billion in economic impact. Throughout this period, Malaysia welcomed more than 800,000 delegates, who collectively spent more than RM5.3 billion in the country to date. This is a testament to the efforts that Malaysia has made to position the country as a premier destination for business events and meetings.
Some of the major business events held in Malaysia this year are the World Urban Forum 2018, the World Cancer Congress 2018 and the 84th World Library and Information Congress 2018. Together, these three events are expected to attract some 21,000 international visitors to Malaysia with an estimated economic impact of RM250 million in terms of job creation and demand for tourism and related services.
Other important meetings to be held in Malaysia are Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting, and World Congress on Information Technology in 2020.
Moving ahead to a brighter future
These developments represent a shift in Malaysia’s promotional strategy. While the early years in tourism was simply creating awareness for Malaysia, today, the ballgame is different. The tourism industry has evolved, and changes are ever-present, demanding destinations like Malaysia to evolve with new strategies and action plans, as well as leverage on the opportunities available. These opportunities for tourism in Malaysia to continue to grow come in the form of the stronger presence of low cost carriers, connectivity to secondary destinations/cities, partnerships with foreign airlines to increase connectivity, the expansion of Middle Eastern airlines to global destinations, new growth markets in areas of special interest, and others.
These latest developments, as well as new upcoming tourism products, signify a bright future in Malaysia’s tourism industry. With the continued support by the government, as well as smart partnerships and collaborations with the private sector, Malaysia’s tourism industry can only go upward and onward – well towards the year 2020 goal that it has set for itself.
Prepared by Embassy of Malaysia to the Republic of The Sudan