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Malaysia tourism will get US$ 650 million in new Government’s loans

In its new budget for 2014, the Malaysian government confirmed to inject two billion ringgit (US$ 640 million) in loans into the tourism sector, confirming the importance of tourism for the Malaysian economy.

KUALA LUMPUR- A RM2 billion (US$ 640 million) allocation for soft loans under Bank Pembangunan Malaysia (Malaysia Development bank) through the Special Tourism Infrastructure Fund is a right move to fuel more growth activities in Malaysia’a booming tourism industry, says a tourism resort and high-impact attraction developer.

Pekan Artisan Sdn Bhd Chief Operating Officer Saifful Azhar Sabaruddin said incentives given under the fund could be used to add more tourism activities in quality hotels and resorts and for theme parks development.

He said the demand for tourism-related activities was growing at rapid pace. “This fund will create more business opportunities, more foreign and local investments in the tourism industry. Also, many jobs can be created in the tourism sector. We hope local entrepreneurs will have access to the special fund to obtain suitable funding options. We also hope the government will provide for a more flexible mode of repayment mechanism,” he told Bernama.

With the continuity of incentives and pioneer status offer, it will transform Malaysia into one of the top countries in offering business facilitations and support for investors to start growth business in the industry, Saifful said.

Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak announced the RM2 billion allocation while presenting the country’s budget 2014 in Parliament last Friday. The fund will provide soft loans at a low interest rate of between four per cent and six per cent, with the government providing a two per cent subsidy.The Prime Minister also announced that 2015 would be “Festival Year 2015” to further capitalize on the effect of Visit Malaysia Year 2014 and further boost confidence into tourism.

On Visit Malaysia Year 2014 (VMY 2014) and Festival Year 2015, Saifful said Malaysia would earn more tourist dollar as there would be more attractive events and tourism activities. “In 2011 to 2012, we saw the tourism sector generating more than RM60 billion, which increased almost four per cent a year. The activities announced by the prime minister can strengthen Malaysia’s position as one of the top tourist havens in the world,” Saifful added.

To better serve the expected 28 million tourists expected next year, the government is pushing for the development of the Pan-Borneo Highway project, that will provide access along the Sabah coastline.There will be also a new RM700 million air traffic control centre at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang, the company said. Finally, RM312 million has been allocated for upgrading airports in Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan, Miri, Sibu and Mukah to cater for the increased passenger traffic.

“This should further encourage investments in hotels and resort developments and shopping sprees in retail megamalls will remain buoyant. Hotels will also enjoy good occupancy levels,” it added.

When tabling Budget 2014, Malaysia Prime Minister announced that VMY 2014 is expected to attract 28 million tourists. To implement VMY 2014 programmes, the government has allocated RM1.2 billion for operating and development expenditures, promotions and advertising in 2013 and 2014, added Najib, who is also the Finance Minister.

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Luc Citrinot a French national is a freelance journalist and consultant in tourism and air transport with over 20 years experience. Based in Paris and Bangkok, he works for various travel and air transport trade publications in Europe and Asia.