This year may be Visit Malaysia Year, but for Minister of Tourism YB Dato Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz despite a one slot drop in world ranking for visits last year (from 9th to 10th according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization) there was plenty of good news to share during ITB in Berlin, the world’s largest tourism fair.
Higher spending pushed Malaysia to 13th from 14th on the receipts side of UNWTO’s ledger, arrivals increased to over 25 million and $18.4 billion was spent by visitors when they came.
Perhaps some of the success was based on Malaysia’s good press. Lonely Planet placed Malaysia on top 10 places to visit in 2014 aided by diverse new attractions from Hello Kitty to Legoland while CNN’s ranking of 100 best beaches included three for the lucky country. Other various media ranked Kuala Lumpur as “Best Shopping City” in the world while another had it fourth behind London, New York and Tokyo. If you are thinking about winding down, Malaysia is ranked third behind Panama and Ecuador based on low cost of living, quality of real estate, medical care and easy assimilation. Or if you are thinking about opening a branch of your company, Malaysia is Top 10 alongside Australia, New Zealand, USA and Canada when it comes to being an Expat.
If doing business is your think, Malaysia is ranked 12th most competitive economy by The World Bank based on ease of starting a business, taxation and ease of crossing boarders. It has been steadily climbing the list from 18th in 2011 and 23rd in 2010. For meetings Kuala Lumpur ranks 7th in the World and Global Traveler Magazine recently recommended it as a place for its readers to visit.
An upcoming slate of events from Formula 1 March 28-30 to the Rainforest World Music Festival in June, the Kuala Lumpur Arts and Culture Festival, the International Gourmet Festival in October and a World Motorcycle Grand Prix in October provide elite travelers plenty of reasons to fly in.
Backed by a series of National Geographic specials led by British naturalist Nick Baker, The Royal Belum Rainforest is likely to get on to future “must visit” lists. With a cameo appearance by the Minister helping Baker explore the forest, some 130 million years old and judged to be older than the Amazon or Congo, over 3,000 species of flowering plants, including three of the world’s largest can be found by visitors.