Malaysia like the United States of America is often referred to as a "melting pot" of people from many different countries, including Chinese an many other Asian cultures as well as other ethnicities, living together happily. While Malaysia is often cited for its multiculturalism, there are many also reasons this country is often known as a utopian paradise for tourism and travel. There are dozens of reasons to travel and tour Malaysian, including the people who are warm and lovely, eager to welcome and delight the millions of people that come exploring each year. Malaysia encompasses 13 states which are also home to 3 federally held territories. These are separated by the South China Sea, where 11 states lay and the territories of Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya rest in Peninsular Malaysia and the one remaining federal territory Labuan in East Malaysia exists with the two remaining states.
Malaysia has an infrastructure that is notable, as it is more developed than some of the other areas in Asia; it has a large technology park that attracts many visitors. It has fresh water that is available to a majority of the population. The road and travel systems are well built, and the airline systems provide international and domestic service. There are also light rail and railway systems as well as an extensive highway system that extends to just less than 500 miles.
Kuala Lumpur is home to the capital city of Malaysia, and the federal government resides in Putrajaya. There are just under 28 million people residing in Malaysia, although that number is expected to grow. The flag is much like that of the United States, with red and white stripes and a blue square, into which a crescent moon and star reside. Malaysia first became a union in 1946, and following some restructuring, eventually achieved independence in August of 1957. The country has one of the more notable economic records with a growing GDP. Among the reasons for the strong economic performance include tourism and medical tourism. For this reason the country is worthy of exploration. Yang di-Pertuan Agong serves as monarch, followed by the Prime Minister who heads the government.
There are many different types of species, plant life and wildlife within the land of Malaysia. Many state the most exotic attraction to Malaysia is the diverse selection of mountains and beaches. These compare interestingly with the homes in which people live and work, which include rather plain wooden houses that sit on stilts, which one can compare to the large and magnanimous hotels built for tourism, and skyscrapers and other large buildings built for businesses that scatter across the peninsula. There are plenty of different people and cultures to enjoy while traveling.
Malaysia has been a hot bed for tourism for many years. As stated, tourism and medical tourism have generated a large portion of revenues for roughly a decade now. One of the reasons people visit Malaysia for tourism is the vast beauty of the region. Malaysia also has an outstanding reputation for medical tourism, with dozens of certified, high-quality hospitals that offer services at more than 60% less than the cost one might pay in a Western country. For this reason tourism continues to explode in this country. Despite economic declines in many other countries, tourism within Malaysia continues to grow. This is not to say however, that financial crises and natural disasters have not impacted the tourism industry, even in Malaysia. It is vital government agencies consider the impact crises have on tourism, and for this reason financial crises is examined thoroughly, as are other factors impacting tourism in Malaysia.
*The Effects of Crises on Tourism
One important and relevant factor to consider is the effect of crises on tourism. As King (2008) notes, tourism in hugely affected by economic and natural disasters throughout the world; as the economy continues to collapse and sickness and natural disasters strike including tsunami's and earthquakes, it is important for governments to consider how they will respond to such crises (p. 40). Coordination among foreign investors, regional collaboration, better communication strategies and the development of new markets are vital to the success of the industry (King, 2008 p. 40; Cochrane on Sri Lanka, pp. 77-91).
Among the possibilities include developing new areas of tourism including promoting longer term residency among tourists, medical tourism, romance and wedding tourism, religious tourism including journeys that are spiritual and sacred, medical tourism, backpacker tourism and cultural or heritage tourism (Winter, 2007, p. 40). Malaysia is one of few countries that have taken advantage of many of these, including medical tourism, spiritual and sacred tourism, and cultural tourism as the country is indeed rich in cultural tradition.
*Globalization and National Policies
All countries, regardless of the business consideration, must consider the process of globalization. This is nothing more than extending their services worldwide. Tourism naturally is a process that can occur domestically, but one that must occur globally or internationally. Therefore a government, when considering how best to expand the tourism industry, must think about globalization. This process may entail examining tourism in other countries to assess what works, and what does not, and then comparing other processes to its own.
Cross-border connections, globalization, international and national policies all have an influence on the tourism industries in particular in Asia including in Malaysia. Cross national and international cooperation especially related to tourism have a very significant effect on tourism, especially in countries including Malaysia. If one country succeeds, all other have the possibility to do so. Often tourism is considered competitively, but it is important for countries to consider what they can offer independently as well as what they can offer as a whole. Very often there are complementary services countries in the Asian sector can offer, particularly countries like Malaysia, so that competition becomes an insignificant factor. Domestic tourism is another important consideration however, as there are many important domestic tourist points of interest. Globalization has always been an important point of revenue particularly related to business customers.
This is significant related to studies including studies on subjects including gambling tourism across borders and areas called "liminal spaces where state power is both at its most apparent and most lax" (King, 2008). In these areas governments must work to develop processes for both when tourism is at its peak and when tourism fails, such as when natural disasters such as tsunamis or the SARS epidemic hits. Cochrane (2008) suggests that incompetence among government officials and "private interests" intermingled with "entrenched systems of patronage" and lack of government involvement or too much red tape have left the tourism industry tied up and unable to grow (p.4). This has led to a failure in the national capacity to grow and has led to the necessity of alternate plans for tourism grown including the involvement and growth of regional players and charity organizations, international developmental agencies, although Cochrane (2008) admits the government's role in tourism growth will always be a factor in sustainable development (p. 131).
In countries like Malaysia, the best way to eliminate red tape and other factors is to pay attention to areas where red tape and government involvement is most likely to be present. This is likely for example, in the medical tourism industry, where certification and insurance, and other factors may play an important role in tourism. The medical tourism industry is more likely in Malaysia to be regulated than other tourist venues, like domestic tourism for holidays. Medical tourism should be closely guarded to ascertain what avenues can be streamlined to ensure the process is cost-efficient but and causes the tourists and the administrators the least amount of disruption when attempting to implement services, thus generating the maximum capacity for revenues. This is also an area where Malaysian officials can consider risk management related to travel and tourism, to limit the risks associated with offering complex services to patrons.
The purpose of this paper is to provide a synopsis of the current environment in which Malaysian tourism resides, and provide planning to extend and expand future tourism within the country. The paper will also explore current challenges tourism in Malaysia faces, as well as those challenges the tourism industry may have faced in the past. The paper will evaluate the successes of the tourism industry in the past and present. Also an important consideration is the actions DMOs and the government can take or have taken to help resolve any conflicts or potential conflicts in tourism. The paper will explore the status of tourism in Malaysia compared elsewhere, and factors influencing tourism now and into the future. Based on a preliminary review of the literature, the current factors facing tourism include the financial crisis including recent economic recession, natural disasters in nearby region including health epidemics like SARS, and changing in tourism demands, both domestic and international, such as requests for medical tourism.