Figures don’t add up – Oops…again we are cheated Nades?…sigh.

Posted on 7 January 2014 – 07:49pm

OVER the Chinese New Year holiday period, a group of friends are arriving from the United Kingdom for a short holiday, en route to Shanghai. In June, a family of five from London will visit our shores for a two-week break.

They will be staying in a serviced apartment and that’s a small contribution to the Visit Malaysia Year programme launched last Saturday.

Every Malaysian is expected to do his or her part and a good part of December was spent trying to persuade friends in the UK to come over, in the hope that their hospitality can be reciprocated.

I don’t know whether these fewer than a dozen people will make any significant change to the projected 28 million visitors spending a whopping RM76 billion during their stay here.

What is the basis of considering someone a “tourist”? The World Tourism Organisation defines tourists as people “travelling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes”.

Let it be stated that the figures propagated by Tourism Malaysia are neither being disputed nor challenged, but there has to be an explanation as to how they are worked out, especially with the dispensation of the disembarkation cards at arrival terminals.

Previously, visitors would have to fill details of their purpose of visit, the duration of stay, etc which will enable proper statistics to be worked out. With our Immigration Department going biometric with a view to going paperless, it is certainly a reasonable question that ought to be asked.

Again for various unexplained expediencies, figures are spewed out which makes one wonder if someone is pulling something out of a hat. For example, the director of Tourism Malaysia in Beijing, Noran Ujang, said that Malaysia is expected to attract two million Chinese tourist arrivals in conjunction with the Visit Malaysia Year.

But statistics being figures, they can sometimes be mind-boggling. How were such numbers arrived at? The arithmetic does not seem to work out – logically. Two million divided by 365 days (in a year) averages 5,479 Chinese tourists coming in daily to Malaysia.

This means on the average again, this works out to 10 Airbus 380s landing daily in our airports carrying people from China. Is this possible or are they taking a slow boat across the South China Sea?

More questions as more figures are churned out in the name of tourism. Does the 28 million include the 12 million-odd Singaporeans who cross over every year? Do they include the “walk-in” crowd at our border checkpoints in Padang Besar and Sungai Golok?

Do they comprise the hundreds of thousands of foreign workers who enter the country?

These questions have to be emphasised because in 2007, the Selangor Government in its imprudent attempt to declare itself as “fully-developed state”, counted itself as receiving several million tourists. The reasoning was that the KL International Airport and Port Klang, the sea gateway to the country, were in Selangor.

The former tourism minister, Datuk Dr Ng Yen Yen, at the launch of a watch exhibition in September 2011 said: “Since 2008, we have been welcoming more than two million tourists every December. Last year alone, ‘A Journey through Time’ brought in over 1 million visitors from more than 30 countries …”

Going by her claims, I had reason to comment: “If one million people visited an exhibition held over 10 days, it would mean that on the average, there were 100,000 visitors each day. If these visitors were foreigners, and on the average, if a plane carried 300 passengers each, it would have needed 334 planes to land every day at the KLIA.

Given that airports operate an average of 18 hours each day, it would have meant that about 19 planes would have touched down each hour or one every three minutes.”

I am walking down memory lane not to ridicule anyone but to reiterate the fact that such incredulous figures make a mockery of our tourism promotional activities.

Like all Malaysians, this writer wants more tourists on our shores to justify the vast amounts invested in promoting Malaysia. However, the expenditure must commensurate with the results. By providing unauthenticated figures, we are merely feeding misinformation.

By the way, how was the figure RM76 billion arrived at? Going by the figures, each of the 28 million men, women and child visiting Malaysia would have to spend RM2,700 each. Is this plausible?

R. Nadeswaran has been involved and been a keen observer of the tourism trade since Visit Malaysia Year 1984. Comments:

6 thoughts on “Figures don’t add up – Oops…again we are cheated Nades?…sigh.

  1. figures are meant to be cooked up to justify the huge expenses incurred for any project. at the end of the day, should they failed to achieve the target, nobody is faulted and semuanya ok. sop.

  2. Whatever figures Tourism Board are coming up with are inclusive of the hundred of thousands of Malaysian who are working and residing in Singapore. Most of these visit their folks or family members at least two or three times a yearly and for some may be even a lot more. What about the weekend visit by those who go shopping in JB or leisure ? I am sure these visitors are considered as the tourism authority of Malaysia and above all in the 76 billion dollars these ‘tourists’. But are they really tourists and what is the tourism industry gaining from them ? They don’t stay in the hotels or go to visit places of interests.

    At best some of them will take the family members or their parents to have a meal or two in a restaurant. I am sure the 76 billion dollars projected by the authority are inclusive of these.Therefore the figures release by the authority are only to justify their highly inflated spending which must include a big portion of it that goes into the private pockets !

  3. many chinese tourist coming into malaysia cold br from third countries such as singapore plus three entry points, i.e. kl, penang and kk. And taiwan, macau and hong kong could be considered as china in malaysia’s system. If i am not mistaken, there are ten flights a day by airasia alone from all parts of malaysia to macau.

  4. And dont anyone dare forget about our brothers and sisters from Brunei Darussalam who go to Miri every weekend to shop for grocery items and to Labuan for some duty-free goods.

  5. It is simple. Since the Chinese in Malaysia are never considered as true citizens(you can check with Perkasa and Apanama) they are also part of the foreign tourist statistic.

  6. These people have no head for numbers and they are incompetent. You find them all over the country and they are there because they are BN people. Good people have no chance in this country irrespective of race.

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