Upcoming election dampens Malaysians’ mood for CNY travel

Forward bookings for travel during the Chinese New Year festive period are down significantly this year, revealed outbound agents in Malaysia, citing anticipation of the upcoming general election as the main reason for the slowdown.

While no date has been fixed for the nation’s 14th General Election, there are rumours it will be held soon after the Chinese New Year holidays. The current parliamentary term began on June 24, 2013, with re-election due by June 24.

Travellers at Kuala Lumpur International Airport

Syed Razif Al Yahya, group managing director at Sutra Travel & Tourism Management Group, said: “We see a double-digit shortfall compared with last year. The general election is a business opportunity for people providing services for the general election as well as those who will be directly involved with campaigning and general election duties. For such people, the mood to travel will not be there until after the general election is over.”

However, travel for meetings and incentives are unaffected, he revealed. The company has two incentive groups from the banking industry, each with 200 delegates, travelling to Eastern Europe in late February.

Another outbound agent, Adam Kamal, manager at Aidil Travel & Tours, said forward bookings are down by some 30 per cent.

He said: “There is no point doing promotions to spur demand because people are choosing not to travel during this period in anticipation of the general election and the campaign period prior to the election.

Sharing booking patterns of those who are still travelling, he said: “Beach destinations Phuket, Bali and Boracay are favoured. If it is a city holiday, it is to Bangkok and Siem Reap.”

Raaj Navaratnaa, general manager at New Asia Holiday Tours & Travel, anticipates domestic travel demand will be as strong as last year due to its appeal to price-conscious travellers.

He noticed a growing trend of family travel to experience village lifestyle in lesser-known tourist destinations such as Betong, Kuala Pilah and Endau, a town in Mersing district.

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