Tourism boosted Malaysia's revenue and economy, more and more tourists visit Malaysia every year.
In 2011, tourist arrivals increased by 137,128 to 24,714,324 compared to 24,577,196 in 2010, while receipts increased by RM1.8bil to RM58.3bil compared to RM56.5bil the previous year.
In addition, the sector contributed a total of RM37.4bil to the Gross National Income (GNI) of the country.
Among the top ten tourist markets for 2011 were Singapore (13,372,647), Indonesia (2,134,381), China (1,250,536), Australia (558,411), United Kingdom (403,940), and Japan (386,974).
2 million of the tourists are Chinese, look at this article regarding Chinese tourists visiting Malaysia.
Malaysia is known diverse tourist attraction that offers attractions such as culture & heritage, ecotourism, Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions (MICE), shopping, international events and health tourism, which affords visitors from all over the world choices to enjoy.
Realising this potential, the Government, through various initiatives under the Government Transformation Programme (GTP) has mapped out a set of deliverables for the Tourism Ministry in order to stimulate sustainable tourism as the nation races to achieve its high-income status by 2020.
Under the Ministerial Key Results Area (MKRA), the Tourism Minister has been tasked and held responsible for delivering targeted outcomes set.
The Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said: "There is still untapped potential within the tourism sector that can provide a viable growth platform for the country.
"We have set targets via the Malaysia Tourism Transformation Plan 2020 of achieving 36 million tourist arrivals and RM168bil receipts by the year 2020."
One of the most successful attractions that have been identified by the Ministry is the Homestay programme which surpassed its target of 23% of occupancy rate and achieved a rate of 32%.
The Homestay programme was created to increase the participation of the rural population in the tourism sector.
In addition, homestay programme participants procured an additional income of RM15.7mil against the RM14mil target set for the year.
Ng said: "Participants of the homestay programme have been able to earn a substantial income and the activity has helped to generate more economic activities at the local level for the people.
"The focus of the homestay programme is not merely about accommodation but also showcases Malaysia's rich cultural heritage lifestyle in a unique and interesting manner."
The country's renowned and modern malls are also earning themselves popularity and net gross.
The international shopping attractions have also gained attention not only by the international tourist community but Malaysian citizens as well, documented by the shopping spend in 2011.
This was apparent by the Ministry working closely with the private sector to achieve a 30% rate in shopping expenditure against the 29% set under its KPI, resulting in a significant boost to the nation's economic landscape.
"Promoting Malaysia as a shopping haven will further solidify the position of our country as a preferred destination to visit, shop, dine and relax," she said.
Also, to further expand the shopping spend, there are talks for Malaysia being a duty-free destination.
The growth of the tourism sector has also opened up new employment opportunities across diverse industries such as retail, food and beverage, accommodation, transport and handicrafts.
In 2011 alone, a total of 55,565 jobs were created.
For 2012, the Ministry's target is stretched to 90,542 jobs.
Property around Malaysia are booming, up to 3,000 rooms with new 4 and 5 star hotels coming into the market.
The spa industry will also be given a nod with the addition of 300 new local spa therapists under a training programme at two national Centres of Excellence (COEs).
With more concentrated efforts in capacity building and rating of the spa industry, it is set to contribute RM0.4bil to the GNI of the country.
In the coming year, the Ministry's KPIs also include boosting revenues through enhanced packaging and clustering of international sporting events such as F1 Grand Prix, Moto GP, Le Tour de Langkawi, Monsoon Cup and Autobacs Super Japan.
The hosting of international events is expected to generate revenue of RM900mil in 2012.
Recognising that business tourism is a dynamic developing sphere in the world today, the Ministry is getting ready to make Malaysia a prime choice for international world conferences.
It is targeted to achieve 45 conference events in 2012 with an economic impact of RM17.6bil.
Ng said, "Economic diversification and niche tourism activities will characterize the way we move forward for the tourism industry.
"We will enhance our promotion and marketing campaigns through our global brand "Malaysia Truly Asia' celebrating diversity to energize the tourism industry and provide the enabling framework to attract and increase tourist arrivals."
She added, "the tourism sector's immense potential has yet to be fully tapped as further growth can come from innovative tourism products such as the 1Malaysia International Shoe Festival, Malaysia International Night Floral Parade, 1Malaysia Contemporary Art Tourism, Fabulous Food 1Malaysia, Parks & Gardens Tourism, Helicopter Tourism, Bicycle and Motorbike Tourism.
"We have to constantly develop more tourist-friendly products and services to meet the needs and preferences of tourists and must continue to promote Malaysia through our warm Malaysian Hospitality," she said.
To know more information about Malaysia, check out Malaysia At A Glance.