Cover Story of the Penang Monthly June 2017 Issue

Cascading waterfalls at Bukit 300, Nibong Tebal.

Cascading waterfalls at Bukit 300, Nibong Tebal.

Tourism contributes substantially to the national GDP of many countries in the world. Its extensive products and ancillary services generate job opportunities locally and exert a strong spillover and multiplier effect on the economy.

It is reported that the travel and tourism industry is responsible for a direct world GDP contribution of US$2,306bil (3.1% of total GDP) in 2016, and is forecast to rise by 3.8% in 2017. In South-East Asia, the direct contribution of travel and tourism to the GDP was US$119.7bil (4.7% of total GDP) and is expected to rise by 5.7% per annum from 2017 to 2027 - translating to US$222.8bil in 2027.

Between 2000 and 2014, Malaysia’s travel and tourism exports expanded by 290%, outpacing the total export of goods and services. Its direct, indirect and induced GDP impact generated as much as 14.9% of the nation’s GDP in 2014 - twice of that created by the education sector, which reached 7.3%.

And just last year, the direct contribution to Malaysia’s GDP was US$14bil and is expected to rise by 4.2% in 2017. In the next decade, the projected direct contribution to Malaysia’s GDP by the travel and tourism industry would be as much as US$24.2bil in 2027 (5.4% of total GDP).

While travel and tourism infrastructure and services continue to expand, holiday trends are shifting as well, especially among the young. A survey by Chase Marriott Rewards found that 84% of millennials (18-34 years old) are interested in taking volunteer vacations compared to a mere 18% of respondents from generation X (35-49 years old), and 17% of baby boomers (50-67 years old). Given that millennials are growing into their peak earning and spending years, their purchasing power should reshape the economy; thus, tourism should soon veer decidedly towards trips that can be classed under ecotourism.

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