The Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry still owes RM107.01 million for advertising and digital tourism promotional campaigns between 2016 and last year, according to the Auditor-General's Report 2018 Series 2.
In an audit that was carried out between November 2018 and March 2019, the National Audit Department (NAD) found that the outstanding debt was due to unplanned advertising campaign and procurement without allocation by the Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board (Tourism Malaysia).
“The financial management for the promotional campaigns by Tourism Malaysia was unsatisfactory as the expenditure incurred in 2016 and 2017 exceeded allocation of RM56.59 million.
“The promotional campaigns were targeted for markets in the Asian region, including Japan, Taiwan, Korea, and China,” said NAD in the report which was released today.
It stated of the 404 promotion programmes planned for 2016 to 2018, only 196 programmes (48.5 percent) were carried out while 208 (51.5 percent) programmes were not implemented.
The audit also found that 231 unplanned promotion programmes were held.
Tourist arrivals fall
Meanwhile, tourist arrivals between 2016 and last year had dropped between 570,000 (2.2 percent) and 5.85 million (18.4 percent) from the targeted arrivals.
“Due to this, Malaysia was unable to retain its standing in top 10 ranking under the UN World Trade Organisation,” the report added.
The audit also found that 37.8 percent to 69.1 percent of the allocation received from 2016 to 2018 was used to settle the outstanding payment of the promotional programmes.
The report added the ‘thematic’ advertising campaigns in Japan, implemented since 2011, was ineffective and not been able to increase the number of Japanese holidaymakers.
The audit also found that there was a reduction by as much as RM765 million (0.2 percent) and up to RM35.835 billion in foreign tourist spending from the projected target between 2016 and 2018.
Among the recommendations made by the Auditor-General are the ministry needs to coordinate and monitor tourism promotion activities to ensure that all allocated funds are fully utilised accordingly in order for the outcome programme achieved.
The report also recommended that Tourism Malaysia exercises good governance and financial management in compliance with financial regulations and implements programmes in accordance with approved allocations.