The significant role played by the tourist industry in Malaysia can be traced from its earliest developments. This is because in comparison with other South-EastAsian states such as Indonesia and Thailand for instance, Malaysia was less developed in the tourist industry sector. Today it has become the country’s second biggest source of foreign exchange and the third largest economy sector. Over the years the industry is significantly contributing to GDP (gross domestic product) growth, investment and employment as well as strengthening the services account of the balance of payments. The related service industries like accommodation, food, transportation, entertainment and other small sized industries have also received a bang in their growth as a result of the rapid increase in the tourism. The receipts from tourism have shown a steady growth. The receipts increased from RM 8580.5 million in 1998 to RM 53367.7 million in 2009. Except for 2003 the receipts have been steady growing over the years. In 2008, an increase of 7.6% from the previous year was earned in tourist receipts which were contributed by the growth of arrivals and tourist expenditure from the region. The five main contributors are Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei, China and Australia.
It is noteworthy that among these though a less number of visitors come from Australia (427076) it has contributed significantly to the tourist receipts (RM 1697.5 million) than the other countries. Tourism also provides employment to a substantial part of the economy. For example, according to the Ninth Malaysia Plan 2006-2010, tourism-related activities provided 492,000 jobs for employees in 2006, representing 4.4 per cent of the total workforce. This is an increase of 26 per cent compared to 390,600 jobs since 2000, accounting for 4.2 per cent of the total work force. As stated earlier the tourism industry leads to the growth of other related industries also which further generates more income. In addition it also helps the local low-income group in tourist places to improve their condition by engaging in tourism related programs like acting as guides, handicrafts industry etc. In today’s world the Internet has become widely popular in terms of providing information. Since the industry of tourism relies on information, information and communication technology (ICT) also contributes significantly to the industry. Most of the tourists gather information and book their tickets today through Internet. This has led to increased number of services to local operators and web sites.