Malaysia picks up pace in tourism

By TIN Media | Tourism Malaysia Published 3 weeks ago on 1 July 2024
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MALAYSIA:

Japan and Thailand top the list of Asian destinations for Chinese tourists heading abroad this summer, as the world’s biggest market of travellers look for holidays that offer good value.

South Korea and Japan have already seen a surge of Chinese tourists after their currencies weakened against the yuan, while South-East Asian countries including Malaysia and Thailand lure tourists with visa-free entry and relatively lower costs, according to Cirium seat capacity data, flight ticketing analysis from ForwardKeys and online travel sites’ bookings.

Amy Li, who lives in Chengdu, is planning a nine-day trip to Malaysia next month with her husband and two children. Pricing was the single biggest factor in choosing Malaysia, where they will visit Kuala Lumpur and beaches in Kota Kinabalu, she said.

The return of Chinese tourists to the global travel market is being closely watched, as their numbers and spending are crucial for the tourism industry’s recovery. Forecasts on when overseas trips by Chinese will return to pre-pandemic levels vary – some expect it will rebound fully by the end of this year, while others including Fitch Group say mainland tourists are still restraining spending.

Bookings and search data show there’s increased demand for international travel this summer.

Trip.com sees outbound travel from China doubling year-on-year, with family group sales for overseas holidays accounting for half of current bookings.

“It’s good value for money,” Li said. “I like ocean views and it’s not that far.”

The World Travel and Tourism Council earlier this month forecasts Chinese holidaymakers will splurge CNY1.8 trillion (RM1.17 trillion) on overseas trips this year, exceeding pre-pandemic levels for the first time.

For now, Chinese tourists haven’t fully returned in the numbers that were seen in 2019. Regional destinations for the June to August summer season are set to recover to about 80% of 2019 levels, according to flight ticketing analysis as of June 7 from ForwardKeys.

The only two countries in Asia that are expected to exceed their 2019 levels are Singapore, with a 15% spike, and Malaysia, which is seeing a 32% boost, according to ForwardKeys.

Asian nations that have implemented visa-free policies have seen faster bookings growth, with Thailand and Singapore becoming popular weekend getaways, said Tongcheng Travel, an online agency popular among Chinese users.

 


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