Malaysia is seeking greater visibility in Europe through two new partnerships, one with ITB Berlin for 2019 and the other with the European Travel Agents and Tour Operators Association (ECTAA) as its Preferred Destination Partner for 2018.
As the partner country of ITB Berlin 2019, Malaysia will organise the opening ceremony on March 6 next year and from March 7 to 11 will fascinate trade visitors with a colourful programme of events.
“Malaysia’s official partner country titleship at ITB 2019 will entail publicity opportunities globally as well as the potential to reach out to key decision-makers and top industry players,” said Tourism Malaysia’s director-general, Mirza Mohammad Taiyab.
With ECTAA, Tourism Malaysia will highlight the diverse travel and tourism products in the country to members across Europe.
Along with these new efforts, Tourism Malaysia is addressing the lack of direct flights from Europe by working with national carriers of neighbouring countries, specifically Singapore Airlines and Thai Airways, to bring in tourists from Europe.
Malaysia lost a direct connection between Frankfurt and Kuala Lumpur in 2015 and 2016 when Malaysia Airlines and Lufthansa suspended flights on this route. However, Germany’s Condor Air stepped in on Novermber 5 last year to service this very route.
Tourism Malaysia also encourages tour operators from Europe to initiate charter flight operations to Malaysia.
These initiatives will hopefully help to arrest the decline in European arrivals, which had seen a double-digit year-on-year drop in major markets such as the UK, Germany and Switzerland in 2016.
Tourism statistics for 2017, up to October, revealed a drop of 10.2 per cent in the UK market to 306,331 tourists; 15.4 per cent drop in the German market to 94,644 tourists; and 19.9 per cent in the Swiss market to 18,062 tourists.
Traditionally, the UK is Malaysia’s top performing European market, followed by Germany. Europe remains an important market for Malaysia as the average tourist spends 7.1 nights and a per diem expenditure of RM583.60 (US$149.40).
According to Manfred Kurz, managing director at Diethelm Travel Malaysia, the market is also crucial for Malaysia as travellers like to venture off the beaten track, hence contributing to rural economies.
Tourism Malaysia has also increased its promotional budget for 2018 as part of efforts towards creating more awareness internationally of the year-long Visit Malaysia Year 2020 campaign.
The campaign is expected to generate 36 million tourists and RM168 billion in tourism receipts. The objective of the campaign is to promote Malaysia as a top-of-mind destination by highlighting the Travel, Enjoy and Respect tagline, in line with the National Eco-Tourism Plan 2016-2025.