Malaysia lifts travel advisory to Japan

MALAYSIA’S Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) lifted its travel advisory to Japan yesterday.

Malaysian citizens are still advised, however, to defer non-essential travel to areas in the north-east of the country, which are still experiencing the after-effects of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

The Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) said in a statement: “The lifting of the travel advisory will surely help to boost the confidence of travellers to Japan. With the current special fare promotion to Japan by airlines, and the all-clear signal given, tour bookings are anticipated to rise, as travel agents step up efforts to attract Malaysians to travel there.”

Apple Vacations & Conventions sent a 20-pax tour group to Osaka yesterday, the first Malaysian group to Japan since March 11. The group was a joint promotion package with Singapore Airlines.

“We are offering great discounts of 30 to 50 per cent off our packages, with savings between 2,300 ringgit (US$757) to 2,700 ringgit per passenger, so we expect more bookings ahead,” said the company’s managing director, Koh Yock Heng.

Malaysia Airlines, which flies directly from Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu to Tokyo and Osaka, has also launched promotional fares to support travel agents.

Japan has become one of Malaysians’ favorite holiday destinations over the last few years. JNTO’s arrival statistics for 2010 showed a significant 27.9 per cent increase in Malaysian arrivals to Japan, with 114,500 visitors, compared to 2009.

During the peak holiday period last December, 17,400 Malaysians visited Japan, a 17.7 per cent jump over the same month in 2009.

Additional low-cost fares launched by AirAsia X from Kuala Lumpur to Tokyo (Haneda) last December also contributed to the surge in Malaysian visitors to Japan.

By Ellen Chen

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