© 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. Malaysia has experienced a significant increase in tourist arrivals over the past 10 years. The challenge is to sustain this growth and therefore it is important to understand the factors influencing inbound tourism to Malaysia. This paper investigates the economic and non-economic determinants of international tourist flows to Malaysia using the generalized method of moment. The annual panel data set includes the number of arrivals from 33 countries during the period 2000–2012, and the number of possible explanatory variables. It is found that habit persistence (word of mouth), income, hotel room and political stability have a positive impact on tourism demand for Malaysia. Also, results indicate that the estimated coefficients of substitute tourism price in the model are negative. This implies that the five alternative destinations are complementary destinations to Malaysia. In addition, the dummy variable for Visit Malaysia Year in 2007 and severe acute respiratory syndrome in 2003 had positive and negative impacts on tourism demand for Malaysia, respectively.