With AirAsia commencing its first route between its southern hub of Johor and Kolkata, West Bengal’s capital, agents in Malaysia are expecting to see a shift both in consumer demand and business opportunities towards the state.
Commenting on the five-times-weekly flights commencing November 28, Raaj Navaratnaa, general manager, New Asia Holiday Tours & Travel, said: “This is an important route because in the past, Indians used to bypass Johor on their way to Singapore. These new flights will create a shift, where we will see Indians wanting to stay primarily in Johor Bahru.
“It will also create more interest among repeat visitors who have already been to Kuala Lumpur and Resorts World Genting. Johor will become a new destination which has it all, soft adventure, beaches, islands and man-made attractions such as golf courses, theme parks and shopping outlets.”
Ahead of the launch, a buyer-meet-seller event that brought together 30 outbound agents from Kolkata and 15 inbound tour operators and hotels from Johor was organised by the Malaysian Inbound Tourism Association (MITA), AirAsia and Tourism Johor.
MITA secretary-general, Adam Kamal, said the event provided new business opportunities for small and medium sized operators from the state of Johor, a departure from “concentrating solely on large tour operators from Kuala Lumpur”.
Indeed, inbound agent from Johor, Chali Ng, director of PSHolidays, said: “In the past, we played a supporting role with bookings for transport and tours coming from agents from Kuala Lumpur. At the recent B2B session, I made many contacts of outbound Indian agents and hope this will lead to more direct bookings.”
Despite the developments, Tesy Antony, director, Daya Kukuh Travel, opined that it remains a challenge to market Johor as a mono-destination for four-day stays without sufficient “world-class attractions” in the state.
The agency is hence looking at four-day packages combining Johor with Singapore or Johor with Malacca.