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Chinese Tourists Flock To Malaysia Print E-mail
Monday, 16 February 2009 19:02

BEIJING, Feb 15 (Bernama) — As the global financial crisis bites into the pocket, Malaysia remains a key destination for Chinese tourists turning to affordable short-haul holidays.

The new year has opened with a big boost in arrivals from China to Malaysia, with January figures soaring 37.3 per cent to hit 100,563.

“The numbers to Malaysia increased because January was the Spring Festival holiday break and many Chinese are skipping Thailand because of the political situation there,” said Cai Min Yu, manager for the Southeast Asian market at Guangzhou-based GZL Travel Services Ltd, when contacted.

Southern China accounts for half of the market into Malaysia with the bulk coming from Shenzhen and Guangzhou, the provincial capital of Guangdong.

Last year, tourists from China, including Hong Kong and Macao, rose 21.2 per cent to 949,864, nearing the one million target. GZL, a major operator, sees an average of 30 per cent increase in its customers to Malaysia annually, over the past few years.

“Last year, we arranged for over 30,000 mainlanders to visit Malaysia.

We will still see an increase this year because the market here is so big and many Chinese have not visited Malaysia, but the growth will not be as high as before.

“In times like these, short-haul destinations are doing better as compared to places like Europe, and many tourists are now looking for low to medium-end packages,” said Cai who offers packages starting from 2,899 yuan, to Malaysia. Suhaimi Shaharuddin, Tourism Malaysia director in Guangzhou, has received similar feedback from other Guangzhou operators.

“We will take advantage of holiday breaks and the stronger yuan to aggressively market niche products like student camps, honeymoons, fly-and-drive, golfing and weekend packages,” he said.

Promotions in second-tier cities like Nanning and Guilin will be increased because low-cost Malaysian carrier, Air Asia, had started flying to the two southern cities in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, said Suhaimi, adding that with Air Asia, the number of flights to Malaysia from southern China by Malaysian and Chinese carriers stood at 98 per week.

Air Asia has already announced the addition of more cities in greater China this year, to include Tianjin, Chengdu, Chongqing and Xian in the mainland and Taipei and Kaoshiung in Taiwan. It currently flies to Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Hangzhou, Guilin, Haikou, Macau and Hong Kong.

“We are also looking into chartered flights to some destinations in Malaysia. I have been approached by a local operator on the possibility of charters to Kuantan which are not served directly by the airlines,” said Suhaimi.

 

— BERNAMA



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