Plunge in Singaporeans visiting M’sia prompts tourism tacticals

Singaporeans at the Woodlands Checkpoint

After arrivals from Singapore took a tumble last year, Malaysia’s inbound players are stepping up on efforts to turn things around.

In the January to September 2018 period, arrivals from Singapore had dropped by 15.6 per cent year on year to 7.8 million. According to Edzuar Zar Ayob Azari, Tourism Malaysia’s Singapore office director, 97 per cent of Singapore arrivals to Malaysia were by land.

Singaporeans at the Woodlands Checkpoint

Tourism Malaysia is running a tactical campaign with EasyBook.com, a land and sea transportation online booking platform in South-east Asia. The tactical includes special getaway packages and a 15 per cent discount on all bus bookings from Singapore to Malaysia purchased from the EasyBook.com site. The promotion is valid for bookings received up to March 15 for travel up to end March, shared Edzuar Zar.

Edzuar Zar surmised that part of the reason behind the decline was congestion at both checkpoints (Causeway and the Second Link), which deterred overland travel from Singapore to Malaysia in favour of more hassle-free nearby destinations such as Bintan and Batam in Indonesia.

To ease congestion, Tourism Malaysia’s Singapore office has since late last year been informing the immigration department in advance of the Singapore school holiday season and when there are large groups travelling to Malaysia.

On the other hand, at Johor-based New Asia Holiday Tours & Travel, business from Singapore were up last year. Raaj Navaratnaa, general manager, shared: “It is good that Tourism Malaysia is taking measures to arrest the decline. I think it is temporary and the market will recover as Malaysia is a shorthaul destination. On our part, we have segmentised the market and come out with packages for soft adventure, gastronomy tours, sports and the student market. As a result, business from Singapore saw an increase last year.”

To boost overall arrivals into the country, Tourism Malaysia’s Singapore office plans to intensify its B2C marketing campaigns this year and to build closer ties with the local travel trade.

Tourism suppliers in the destination are also doubling down on promotions in Singapore.

For example, Anthony Wong, managing director, Frangipani Langkawi Resort & Spa, said the drop in Singapore arrivals to Langkawi is partly due to airlines offering attractive promotions to other destinations such as Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand.

“Singaporeans are spoilt for choice. Next week, our hotel sales people are travelling to Singapore to make sales calls as an effort to boost sales.”

He further opined that agents and Tourism Malaysia should refresh their package offerings. “We cannot be selling the same old tours and attractions as we did a decade ago.”

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