Malaysia’s GDP to rise by 1% due to resumption of China’s outbound travel: Economists

 Monday, February 6, 2023 


Malaysia’s gross domestic product (GDP) could increase by at least 1 percentage point, thanks to stronger tourism activity due to the resumption of China’s outbound travel, says UOB Global Economics & Market Research on Friday.

The boost will further support their baseline GDP growth forecast for Malaysia of 4 per cent for 2023, Xinhua news agency reported the research house’s economists Julia Goh and Loke Siew Ting as saying in a report.

“The uplift will come through further recovery in tourist arrivals, resumption of China outbound traveling, and sustained domestic tourism demand,” they said.

The economists noted that tourism’s contribution to Malaysia’s GDP was 6.8 per cent in 2019 and 6.5 per cent in 2018, higher than the average level of 4.4 per cent in Asia Pacific.

According to the report, Malaysia registered a 1 per cent increase in foreign tourist arrivals to 26.1 million in 2019, the second highest annual inbound tourist arrivals since data began in 1981.

Chinese tourists made up 3.1 million, or 11.9 per cent share, to rank as the third source of inbound tourist arrivals for Malaysia in 2019, after Singapore and Indonesia.

Tourism receipts from Chinese tourists totaled 15.3 billion ringgit ($3.59 billion), or 17.8 per cent of Malaysia’s total tourist receipts in 2019, ranking second and overtaking Indonesian tourists’ spending in Malaysia.

The higher spending capacity of Chinese tourists based on average per capita expenditure of 4,921 ringgit ($1,156), also ranks higher than Singapore at 2,022 ringgit ($475) and Indonesia at 3,571 ringgit ($839).

According to the economists, the global tourism sector is expected to make a big leap forward this year as China has reopened its borders and eased domestic restrictions since Jan 8, 2023.

The World Tourism Organization projected that international tourist arrivals could reach 80 per cent to 95 per cent of pre-pandemic levels in 2023 (versus 63 per cent in 2022) despite lingering global headwinds.

It is noted that the International Monetary Fund has raised its global growth outlook for 2023 owing to China’s recent reopening, which paves the way for a faster-than-expected recovery.

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