While Kuala Lumpur remains a firm favourite in Malaysia thanks to its mature branding and iconic structures, agents are seeing neighbouring Selangor rising in popularity among tourists, fuelling demand for twin-destination programmes.
Yap Sook Ling, managing director, Asian Overland Services Tours & Travel, said new products in Selangor are driving interest for family travel from India, China, Hong Kong and the Middle East.
Itineraries span attractions such as Selangor Fruits Valley, Sekinchan paddy fields, Sky Mirror in Kuala Selangor and Sunway Lagoon, the oldest and largest theme park in Selangor.
She added: “We have seen demand for Selangor rising over the last two years, some from repeat visitors to Kuala Lumpur, and others who have heard about Selangor and were keen to explore beyond Kuala Lumpur.
“Selangor appeals to special interest groups as well as families with children because of its ecotourism attractions and educational experiences such as rice planting and harvesting and mangrove ecosystem in Kuala Selangor.”
In the past, Selangor was offered as a day trip component, but combination packages now include overnight stays both in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur, she shared.
Cherry Lee, executive director, World Express Tours, said: “Selangor’s appeal lies in its greenery and there are a number of resort hotels with green landscaping and space, which appeals to the leisure segment, unlike Kuala Lumpur which has more business class hotels.”
Lee added that hotels in Selangor are priced very competitively, with new hotels coming up in locations near shopping malls and theme parks. Sunway Clio Hotel, for example, is located within walking distance of Sunway Lagoon and Sunway Pyramid Mall, whereas New World Hotel in Petaling Jaya is adjacent to Paradigm Mall.
“We see growing demand for Selangor from the Middle East market, who in the past used to want to stay only in Kuala Lumpur and do day trips to Selangor,” shared Lee.
“(Seeing the changing trends), we have asked hotels in Selangor to give us bigger allotments to add into our distribution channels,” she added.
For Abdul Rashid Asari, Selangor state government chairman of standing committees for cultural and tourism, Malay tradition and heritage, however, “travel agents unforunately still tend to sell the same old tours emphasising Kuala Lumpur”, despite the abundance of ecotourism, culture and heritage offerings in Selangor.
To change this, there are plans to step up product briefings and fam tours for travel agents from 4Q2018 onwards, showcasing offerings in and around the big cities of Petaling Jaya, Subang, Shah Alam and Klang, he told TTG Asia.
A chief focus is to “develop the tourism infrastructure outside the main cities by building three- and four-star hotels in places such as Sabak Bernam, Sekinchan, Hulu Selangor and Kuala Selangor”.
“This year, we also initiated the Selangor Community Host Programme to train local communities to be local guides in the areas they live,” said Abdul Rashid.
Nazri Tashriq Rahmat, corporate communications manager, Tourism Selangor, said Selangor continues to be a day-trip option for many Asian tourists, but the state tourism board hopes to increase this to a few nights’ stay over time.
Another challenge lies in Selangor lacking recall as a geographically distinct destination.
Said Nazri: “Many travellers doing Selangor-Kuala Lumpur combination tours are unaware that some (attractions they visited) are in Selangor, as the guides don’t point this out. We are now educating inbound agents to (make the distinction clear).”