KUALA LUMPUR - Revenue from the tourism sector has increased to RM35.3bil (S$13.7 billion) for the first six months of the year, despite the challenges posed to the industry by the Malaysia Airlines MH370 tragedy, said Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz.
The Tourism Minister said the figure showed a 13.2 per cent increase from the RM30.6bil recorded for the same period last year.
"The tragedy (MH370) has not affected tourism revenue, which recorded an increase," he said when answering a supplementary question raised by Datuk Shamsul Anuar Nasarah (BN-Lenggong) in the Dewan Rakyat Monday.
He also said that tourist arrivals to the country had increased to 16.1 million or 9.7 per cent between January and July this year compared to 14.5 million arrivals for the same period last year.
However, he acknowledged that tourist arrivals from China and Taiwan had dipped due to the MH370 tragedy.
He said 997,370 tourists from China and 168,962 tourists from Taiwan visited the country between January and July this year, representing a 11.8 per cent and 2.9 per cent drop respectively.
He added the MH17 tragedy in July would also have a bearing on the industry and steps were being taken to address this.
Among the measures was a shift of focus to regional, European and US markets, including participating in international tourism fares and exhibitions.
The effort, he said, has resulted in increase in tourist arrivals, particularly from South Korea and Vietnam for the first six months of this year.
Tourists arrivals from South Korea had increased to 189,083, up from 133,216, while 142,415 arrivals were recorded from Vietnam compared to 112,782 for the same period last year.
Owing to this, Mohamed Nazri said that the 28 million tourists arrivals targeted for Visit Malaysia Year 2014 could still be achieved.
He added that a target of 29.4 million tourists arrivals was targeted for the ministry's Malaysia Year of Festival next year.