The Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Minister said to achieve the target of 36 million tourist arrivals by 2020 and gross income receipts of RM168 billion, Malaysia needed to change its products and services to cater for the higher yield and luxury market segment.
“One of the market segments is cruise tourism — be it ocean, sea, lake or river cruise, which all the major cities have. Currently, the cruise industry is negligible in the overall picture,” said Hasan in his keynote address at the Global Cruise Tourism Conference 2014, here today.
He said Malaysia currently has a few cruise ships plying the Penang, Langkawi and Thailand routes plus Singapore, Kuantan and Tioman cruise every two months.
“We have six cruise ports namely Langkawi, Penang, Port Klang, Kuantan, Kota Kinabalu and Kuching with customs, immigration and quarantine (CIQ) complex but none could cater for larger cruise ships that could bring in thousands of tourists,” he said.
He added that investment in such facilities were needed in order for the ocean cruise tourism to flourish in Malaysia.
The country has a great potential to be a leading cruise tourism player as it is surrounded by sea and coastline, and has rivers and lakes.
There must be a concerted effort between the industry experts and government to maximise the resources available, he said.
Hasan said the tourism industry has been the prime contributor to the socio-economic development and was the second largest foreign exchange earner after manufactured goods.
For January to April this year, Malaysia received 9.26 million tourists, a 9.9 per cent increase from the same period last year.
For Visit Malaysia Year 2014, the country aimed to achieve 28 million international tourists arrivals with RM76 billion in tourist receipts, while for Malaysia Year of Festivals 2015, it targeted 29.4 million tourists and RM89 billion in tourist receipts, he added.