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Department of Tourism was first set up under the Ministry of Trade of Malaysia in 1959. The inclusion of the principal objectives of tourism into the country's 2nd Malaysia Plan 1971-1975 further emphasized the role of tourism in the economy.

In the 1980's government support for tourism continued with the establishment of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism in 1987.

On 20 May 1992, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism was renamed Ministry of Culture, Arts and Tourism or MoCAT.

In April 2004, MoCAT was split to facilitate the establishment of a separate ministry i.e the Ministry of Tourism (MoTour) which was responsible solely for matters related to tourism. This development reflected the government's seriousness in promoting tourism as one of the key major income earners for the country.

On 15 May 2013, MoTour was transformed to Ministry of Tourism and Culture (MOTAC) after the 13th General Election. This is to serve the close connection between tourism and culture in efforts to promote Malaysia as a top-of-the-mind destination, in line with its ever popular tagline "Malaysia, Truly Asia".

On the 2nd July 2018, this Ministry was renamed as the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture Malaysia as announced by YAB Prime Minister during the Cabinet Formation after the 14th General Election.​
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