Leveraging its strategic position in Asia, and boasting a dazzling diversity that sees over 50 ethnic groups, cultures and culinary heritage, Malaysia is indeed a destination "Where The Best Of Asia Comes Alive", as recently acknowledged by the Lonely Planet for which Malaysia is one of the Top 10 destinations to visit in 2014.
Participating at the World Travel Market 2013 in London this week, Tourism Malaysia's Director General Dato' Mirza said, "Malaysia is very well positioned to capture the growing global travel demand for Asian destinations, which is expected to grow by three to four per cent in 2013 - as investors, businesses and tourists savour Malaysia's natural beauty and multicultural heritage as well as our truly unique multiracial cuisine. No other country in the region combines the best of traditional and contemporary Asia as we do. As our tag line says -- Malaysia is Truly Asia and we welcome everyone to come to Malaysia to visit, live, work or play, especially as 2014 has been declared Visit Malaysia Year."
With more than 25 million tourist arrivals and USD20 billion in foreign exchange earnings in 2012, Malaysia is looking at attracting investors, operators, partners and talents to participate in this positive growth. Several incentives through the Malaysian Tourism and Economic Transformation Programmes support Malaysia's ambitions, including a 100% foreign ownership for tourism projects.
Aside from visiting or investing in Malaysia, the country is also known as a hot spot for long-stay visitors and retirees. Malaysia introduced Malaysia My Second Home Programme (MM2H) a decade ago, which allows foreigners who fulfil criteria to stay in Malaysia for as long as possible on multiple entry social visit passes. Ranked #3 in the World's Top 10 Retirement Havens by the International Living Magazine in 2013, Malaysia continues to attract long stay visitors, drawing 22,320 foreigners to the country since launching the MM2H program. Moving forward, a total of 3,227 MM2H applicants were approved in 2012 and 1,890 applicants so far this year.
All in all, Malaysia offers significant potential for investors, tourists and its people, borne from its cultural, ethnic and geographical diversity found nowhere else in the world. Malaysia invites industry partners, talents and tourists alike to experience Malaysia, whether for work, play or to live, being a unique destination in a region where the best of Asia comes alive.