Malaysia will need to welcome an average of 2.22 million tourists per month from now until December in order to achieve its 25 million tourist arrival target.
In the first five months of the year, Malaysia welcomed 9.44 million tourists, or 1.89 million per month.
The Tourism Ministry had set that tourist arrival target for this year after recording 24.7 million arrivals last year.
Tourist arrivals in the first five months of the year is a 1.2 per cent increase over the corresponding period of last year.
The tourists spent a total of RM21.8 billion, or RM2,309 per person, ranging from accommodation to shopping.
This compares with the January 2011 to May 2011 period when 9.32 million tourists contributed a total of RM21.4 billion in tourism revenue, with the spending at RM2,294 per person.
Asean countries contributed almost three-quarters of the total arrivals, with the total number of tourists increasing from Indonesia (19.3 per cent), Philippines (41.7 per cent) and Vietnam (32.5 per cent).
Singapore, which traditionally has been the biggest contributor, however, saw a drop of 300,000 arrivals compared with the corresponding period of last year.
Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said the decline could be a result of the new method of collecting data starting January 1 2012, where arrival is based on country of citizenship and not country of domicile.
Other countries that contributed to firmer numbers include Saudi Arabia (up 50.7 per cent), China (34.1 per cent), Japan (30.6 per cent) and Russia (25.8 per cent).
Ng, who announced the latest tourist data yesterday, also said the ministry had decided to release tourist arrival data only twice a year.
Nevertheless, it will provide the June 2012 figures to make the first-half number complete.
Malaysia, she pointed out, was also beginning to see more tourists coming in via scheduled chartered flights, which was reflected in the increase in arrivals from China, South Korea and Taiwan.
In the January to May period, a total of 62,647 tourists arrived via chartered flights, contributing RM150 million in revenue.
Ng said the ministry was looking at bringing in 120 chartered flights from Russia alone.
Meanwhile, contribution from shopping in the first five months was RM7.04 billion.
The Homestay Programme,
a segment that Ng has been aggressively promoting, also enjoyed a 38.4 per cent increase in occupancy rate with 133,689 tourists. Of this, 23,367 were foreigners and the rest domestic tourists.
Tourism receipt from the homestay programme in the first five months of the year rose to RM7.38 million from RM4.82 million previously.
By 2020, Malaysia hopes to welcome 36 million tourists, who are expected to contribute RM168 billion in receipts.