Malaysia sees signs of European comeback

'Substantial' growth in European arrivals after years of decline

After five years of continuous year-on-year decline from European inbound markets to Malaysia, the country saw an increase in January and February 2018 over the corresponding period in 2017, believed to be the result of intensified B2B marketing.

Tourism Malaysia director-general, Mirza Mohammad Taiyab, said statistics could not yet be revealed, but let on that the increase was “substantial”.

‘Substantial’ growth in European arrivals after years of decline

He shared his optimism at a press conference yesterday that the number of arrivals from Europe will continue to grow moving forward as Tourism Malaysia has made efforts to increase its visibility in Europe.

Working in close collaboration to market Malaysia to European agents are Tourism Malaysia, the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) and its affiliate member, the European Travel Agents and Tour Operators Associations (ECTAA).

(From left) Tourism Malaysia’s Zulkafli Yahya, Mohmed Razip Hasan and Mirza Mohammad Taiyab; ECTAA’s Merika Hallik and Michel De Blust; and MATTA’s Tan Kok Liang

Efforts include the signing an MoU with ECTAA in 2016, which makes Malaysia the association’s preferred destination partner in 2018. Through the agreement, ECTAA will highlight the diverse travel and tourism products in Malaysia to its members across European countries.

Mirza stressed that the marketing focus for Europe for this year was on B2B initiatives.

ECTAA’s 117th semi-annual meeting, held in Kuala Lumpur from May 7 to 9, saw the participation of 46 delegates from 25 associations in Europe to create awareness about the destination with sessions including briefings from Tourism Malaysia and Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau.

ECTAA members also shared with Tourism Malaysia on the challenges and the destination’s strengths in attraction European tourists, which according to ECTAA president Merika Hallik included good weather, variety of nature based attractions, good beaches and friendly service.

Tourism Malaysia, in cooperation with various Malaysian states, has also planned 4D/3N post tours that cover Selangor, Langkawi and Sabah.

This year, Tourism Malaysia is targeting 1.5 million tourists from Europe, from 1.1 million arrivals in 2017. The target for 2019 is 1.6 million and 1.7 million for 2020.

There have also been improvements in air connectivity between Malaysia and Europe, especially in 4Q2018 when Germany’s Condor Air commenced its thrice-weekly services between Frankfurt and Kuala Lumpur, and TUI Group launched its Fly & Cruise programme.

Tourism Malaysia has also initiated joint marketing efforts with foreign airlines that service both Europe and Malaysia through their hubs, namely Turkish Airlines, Emirates Airline, Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and Singapore Airlines.

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