MalaysiaGross value-added tourism industries contributed 15.2% to GDP as compared to 2017’s 14.6%

Tourism in Malaysia records better year-on-year performance in 2018

The main entry point for visitors to Malaysia is capital city Kuala Lumpur.
The main entry point for visitors to Malaysia is capital city Kuala Lumpur. Photo Credit: S.S. Yoga

KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysia’s tourism industry recorded a better performance in 2018 compared to the previous year.

Malaysia had a RM220.6 billion (US$53.3 billion) revenue from gross value-added tourism industries (GVATI), which was a 15.2% contribution to GDP in comparison to 2017’s 14.6%.

GVATI is a measure of the value of goods and services produced in the tourism sector of an economy.

The country also sustained an overall double-digit growth of 10%. Retail trade and food and beverage with a combined share of 63.6% supported this growth.

This was revealed in a release from Dato Sri Dr Mohd Uzir Mahidin, chief statistician of the Department of Statistics, Malaysia.

Last year, the Tourism Direct Gross Domestic Product (TDGDP) share of GDP was an increase of 6.6% as compared to 2017’s 6.4%. TDGDP is a measure of the gross value contribution of tourism activity to overall economic activity.

TDGDP recorded a higher value of RM94.5 billion from RM87.8 billion in 2017 and posted a moderate growth of 7.6% in 2018. Retail trade and accommodation remained the main contributors to TDGDP with a share of 42.5% and 19.4% respectively.

Inbound tourism expenditure posted a slower growth of 2.3% against 5% in the preceding year. The slowdown mirrored the growth of inbound tourist arrivals, which recorded a negative 0.4% in 2018. The tourist receipts earned from inbound tourism expenditure constituted 96.9% (RM84.9 billion) and the remaining 3.1% (RM2.7 billion) from excursionists. The latter refers to day travellers who do not spend the night.

Shopping expenditure remained top for tourists (33.5%), followed by spending on accommodation (24.7%) and passenger transport services (18%). Food and beverage contributed 13.4% and travel agencies 4.4%.

Domestic tourism expenditure continued to register a double-digit growth of 12.3% as compared to 2017’s 10.8%. This performance was propelled by the impressive growth recorded by shopping, which accounted for 42%. The share of domestic tourism expenditure to the total internal tourism consumption expanded to 48.6% in 2018 from 46.2%.


States-wise, Selangor contributed the most in domestic tourism receipts at RM13.2 billion. This was followed by Kuala Lumpur (RM10.2 billion), Sarawak (RM8.1 billion), Sabah (RM7.5 billion), Pahang (RM7.4 billion), Johor (RM6.7 billion), Perak (RM6.5 billion) and Penang (RM6.2 billion).

The bottom five were Kedah (RM4.7 billion), Kelantan (RM4 billion), Putrajaya (RM1 billion), Perlis (RM 0.6 billion) and Labuan (RM0.4 billion).  

Employment in the tourism industry grew by 4.9% (3.5 million persons) that contributed 23.5% to the total employment as compared to 22.9% in 2017. Food and beverage serving services and retail trade recorded the highest employment in the tourism industry with a share of 34.1% and 33.1% respectively.

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