PETALING JAYA: Malaysia was one of the world’s top 10 tourist destinations last year, making it the only South-East Asian country to make the list in the United Nations World Trade Organisation (UNWTO) Tourism Highlights 2012.

The report rated Malaysia ninth based on international tourists arrival, with 24.7 million foreign tourists last year.

In 2009, the country recorded 23.6 million tourists arrival and in 2010, the number increased to 24.6 million.

Topping the list was France with 79 million tourist arrivals, followed by United States (62 million), China (58 million), Spain (57 million), Italy (46 million), Turkey (29.3 million), United Kingdom (29.2 million) and Germany (28.4 million).

Rounding up the top 10 was Mexico with 23.4 million tourists.

The report also ranked Malaysia 14th in terms of international tourism receipts with US$18.3bil (RM56.3bil) last year, ahead of countries such as Singapore,   Japan, the Netherlands, Korea and Canada.

In 2009 and 2010, Malaysia recorded US$15.8bil (RM48.6bil) and US$18.2bil (RM55.9bil) respectively in tourism receipts.

In congratulating tourism players for doing a good job to promote the nation, Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) president Datuk Mohd Khalid Harun said this was the result of hard work put in by many people.

“This is not an overnight success. We have worked hard and long and are now finally tasting the labour of our success,” he said.

He said Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen, her ministry as well as the private sector had also worked tirelessly to promote the country.

“We should not rest on our laurels but strive to further improve our rankings,” he said.

Tourist guide Anne Molly Camoens, who has 19 years’ working experience, said it was “exciting” to hear the news as this would create more job opportunities in the industry.

UNWTO Tourism Highlights is a World Tourism Organisation publication which aims to provide an overview of international tourism trends.

news courtsey – star