Malaysia has always been a top-listed travel destination for many Hongkongers. Most of the tourists love to visit the pristine beaches of Penang and Kota Kinabalu. But there is more to Malaysia than just beaches. The tourism industry in Malaysia ranks as the second highest foreign exchange earner. As far as results go, promoting its tourism industry has been one of the country's success stories. In celebrating Malaysia's 53 years of nationhood, its tourism industry deserves recognition for its contributions in terms of income generation, infrastructure development and job creation. Despite encountering various obstacles along the way, the tourism industry has remained resilient. It continues to be an important economic activity benefiting business areas such as hospitality, transportation, retail trade, recreational and leisure facilities. Its resilience is largely attributed to the active participation of the public and private sectors in undertaking vigorous promotion and marketing, diversifying target markets and improving competitiveness of tourism products and services to sustain interest among visitors to Malaysia. The tourism industry has grown in leaps and bounds in terms of tourist arrivals and economic contribution. From a mere 5.5 million tourist arrivals in 1998, contributing some M$8.5 billion (HK$20.9 billion) in tourism receipts, Malaysia attracted 23.65 million tourists last year. Despite being a challenging year due to the economic slowdown and the swine flu pandemic, Malaysia has shown its resilience by recording a 7.2 per cent increase in tourist arrivals. The targeted 19 million international tourist arrivals forecast for last year was achieved by October. In terms of receipts, it reached M$53.37 billion last year, a 2.8 per cent increase on the previous year. According to the World Tourism Organisation barometer, Malaysia made it into the top 10 countries with the highest international tourist arrivals last year. It secured ninth place, up two notches from the previous year. Malaysia is second after China in terms of tourist arrivals in Asia. The rise in tourist arrivals can also be attributed to increased regional travel and greater air services connectivity. The rapid expansion of budget airlines within the region, such as AirAsia, ValuAir and Tiger Airways, along with budget hotels, has made travelling more affordable. Low airfares and attractive holiday packages by low-cost carriers have encouraged greater regional travel.