On 25th of October 2023, School of Hospitality, Tourism and Events (SHTE), Faculty of Social Sciences and Leisure Management, Taylor’s University organized the Budget Forum 2024 with the theme of “Unleashing Malaysia's Tourism Industry Potential: Strategies for Sustainable Growth”. For this year’s budget forum series, four distinguished Panelists from different sectors within the tourism industry in Malaysia were invited.
The Panelists were Mr. CS Lim, Vice President of Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH), Mr. Edwin Ng, CEO of Adelston Media, Ms. Eileen Cheong, Business Development Manager of Tourism Selangor Promosi Sdn Bhd, and Mr. Jaggarao Simancha, Vice President (Advocacy) of Malaysia Association of Convention & Exhibition Organisers & Suppliers (MACEOS). The engaging dialogue sharing session was moderated by Dr. Shantini Thuraiselvam, Lecturer from Taylor's School of Hospitality, Tourism and Events.
Some key takeaways from the forum were despite the huge amount of budget allocation for 2024, for international context, the amount is not really a significant amount due to the deficit of the Ringgit currency against some of the major currencies such as US Dollar, Euro and even Singapore Dollar. Nevertheless, the most important thing is how the allocation of the budget will be utilized, especially for the tourism industry and promoting Malaysia as a tourism destination for both leisure and business events.
Besides that, to have a niche or targeted areas of tourism is a good idea with a consideration of what is the unique selling point or Malaysia’s strength to differentiate and compete with other countries that have the same niche tourism, how to maintain the demand, and how to project the sustainability practices in all business sectors within the tourism industry. Another view from the Panelist was there should be more focus on how to improve road and infrastructures condition especially in connecting different tourist attractions to boost the inbound and domestic tourism.
On the other hand, with the ease of application for Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H), it will help Malaysia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and encourage international tourism spending which is positive. Another interesting topic was the increasing of Sales and Service Tax (SST) from 6% to 8% which gives an impact to the consumers when the prices for most of the products and services will be increased also. In addition, one of the challenge faced by the industry is losing the local talents. Hence, this is where most of the industry players nowadays are trying to balance between physical manpower and digitalization.
Finally, based on the feedback received from the attendees, the majority agreed that a Budget Forum should be hosted annually to discuss the impacts and actual situation of the tourism industry because it is relevant and useful. Other than that, one participant also said that “Budget Forums can teach problem-solving skills by presenting real or hypothetical budget challenges and encouraging participants to develop solutions”.