Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi chairing the Tourism Cabinet Committee Meeting. Also present at the meeting were Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz, Home Ministry secretary-general Datuk Seri Alwi Ibrahim and Immigration director-general Datuk Seri Mustafar Ali. Pix by Mohd Fadli Hamzah

PUTRAJAYA: Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has described Visit Malaysia Year (VMY) 2020 as a national mission and a major catalyst for the tourism industry to ensure Malaysia remains competitive.

Themed 'Travel. Enjoy. Respect', the deputy prime minister said VMY will become the core agenda in achieving the country's tourism target under the Malaysia Tourism Transformation Plan.

In realising this, Zahid, who is also Home Minister, said a VMY2020 Secretariat has been established under Tourism Malaysia, which is in charge of planning and organising activities for the campaign.

"All relevant ministries, government agencies and departments are prepared to give its full commitment to make sure the campaign achieves its target," he said after chairing the Tourism Cabinet Committee Meeting.

Also present at the meeting were Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz, Home Ministry secretary-general Datuk Seri Alwi Ibrahim and Immigration director-general Datuk Seri Mustafar Ali.

Zahid said the meeting was held to coordinate all ministries and agencies to further develop the country's tourism industry.

Last year, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had announced during his 2018 Budget speech that the country’s tourism campaign (VMY) was set to make a return in 2020.

VMY was first launched in 1990, and subsequently held in 1994, 2007 and 2014.

Zahid said the tourism industry is among the major contributors in the country's service industry, contributing a total of 14.8 per cent or RM182.4 billion in gross domestic product (GDP).

"In the National Key Economic Areas (NKEA), the industry was third largest contributor at RM73.3 billion to the Gross National Income (GNI).

"Total employment in the tourism industry also recorded a high number with 3.2 million people or 22.7 per cent of the total employment in 2016," he added.

A total of 25.94 million tourists visited Malaysia last year, a slight decrease of three percent from the year before, Zahid said.

"This was due to the decrease of Asean tourist arrivals (3.9 per cent) last year.

"A total of 75.1 per cent of tourists to Malaysia are from Asean countries as they continue to dominate tourist arrivals," he added.

Zahid said Malaysia had received many recognitions throughout last year, among which include 'World No 1 Best Healthcare' destination by InternationalLiving.com and 'World's Top Muslim-Friendly Destination' by the Mastercard-CrescentRating Global Muslims Travel Index.

At the meeting, the committee had discussed three issues, which include problems faced by Iranians in participating in the Malaysia My Second Home programme, handing over of the management of umrah and pilgrimage packages to the Prime Minister's Department, and the extension of the visa period for Saudi Arabians to Malaysia.

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