TUI Group is initiating a new Fly & Cruise programme to Malaysia that may help reverse a decline in arrivals from key European markets and the country’s cruise tourism sector.
The programme, from December 20 until March 29, 2019, will see TUI offering direct flights to Langkawi, thereafter regional cruises out of Langkawi for its European customers.
Passengers will arrive on three fortnightly flights on a 787 Dreamliner from three UK airports (Gatwick, Manchester and Birmingham) to Langkawi.
With TUI’s cruise ship homeporting in Langkawi, all passengers will spend at least one night in Langkawi before embarking on a 14-day itinerary which will include Penang, Port Klang and Malacca, as well as Singapore, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand.
The total potential capacity is expected to be about 7,200 passengers in the first year of operation, Tourism Malaysia said in a press statement.
Tourism Malaysia’s director-general, Mirza Mohammad Taiyab, said: “This initiative by TUI Group will strongly boost the visibility of Malaysia across all European source markets. At the same time, our position as an international transportation hub will increase and add value to our economy.”
“This initiative also supports the Visit Malaysia 2020 campaign that is projected to welcome 36 million tourists to Malaysia and register RM168 billion (US$43.3 billion) in tourist receipts for the country,” said Mirza.
Frank Vahldiek, director international partnerships of TUI Group said: “Our strategic priority is to drive growth in all-year destinations – and Asia is one of the key growth regions. Our European customers show an ever growing interest to visit countries such as Malaysia.
Currently, all three cruise companies of TUI – TUI Cruises, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, and UK-based Marella Cruises – have now included Malaysia’s three ports-of-call including one homeport (Langkawi, Port Klang and Penang) in their programmes.
Another major development in 4Q2018 is the commencement of Germany’s Condor Air thrice-weekly services between Frankfurt and Kuala Lumpur, the only airline to service this route.
Both TUI’s Fly & Cruise programme and the new flights by Condor Air will hopefully arrest declining visitors numbers from major markets in Europe to Malaysia. Last year, arrivals from Germany declined by 15.7 per cent to 109,816 tourists over 2016, the UK dropped by 10.4 per cent to 358,818, while arrivals from Switzerland dipped 22 per cent to 20,775 tourists.