Domestic travel heats up in Malaysia amid economic uncertainty

Fishing boat at tropical rainforest at Kenyir Lake in Terengganu, Malaysia, a man made lake built for purpose of hydroelectric power supply - Image

Malaysian travel agents are reporting a cut back on travel spend and shift towards domestic holidays, with the Central Bank of Malaysia lowering its projection for the year’s GDP growth from 4.9 per cent to between 4.3 per cent to 4.8 per cent due to headwinds from global events such as the US-China trade spat and Brexit deadlock.

Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) secretary-general, Nigel Wong, said: “Cautious in a period of economic uncertainty, Malaysians tend to holiday locally. The recent MATTA Fair in Kuala Lumpur recorded domestic sales in excess of RM20 million (US$4.9 million) as compared to last year’s RM12 million. There was more demand for booths at the domestic hall this year. MATTA sold 255 booths in the domestic halls, compared with 246 booths last year.

Lake Kenyir in Terengganu is a popular holiday spot domestically

Wong shared: “We have seen a trend for a year now of travellers choosing regional and medium haul destinations in Asia over longhaul travel. Outbound longhaul travel has plateaued. This is based on MATTA Fair figures and feedback from the industry.”

John Chan, business advisor at Isma Holidays in Johor, said: “Malaysians are still upbeat travellers but we notice they are optimising their budget spend. We notice that the middle class, instead of going on two holidays, one longhaul and one medium haul destination, are now opting to travel to more regional destinations in Asia. South-east Asia including Indochina is popular, as are Japan, South Korea and China.

“On our part, we have increased our travel product offerings in Asia and South-east Asia, and we are running more promotional campaigns. We are also working with travel suppliers to come up with attractive and affordable travel packages. The tour packages we have are about five to 10 per cent lower across the board as compared with prices in 2018.”

Alex Lee, CEO, Ping Anchorage Travel & Tours in Terengganu, said he saw a 10 per cent increase in sales for the recent week-long school holiday period, especially to the islands off Terengganu and also to Lake Kenyir.

He said: “There is increased demand for snorkelling activities. On our part, we are promoting sustainable activities such as collecting rubbish from the islands and donating to NGO efforts on wildlife conservation. This is well received by the public who are keen to do their small part in conservation efforts.”

Andy Yow, director of sales and marketing, Vivanta Rebak Island, Langkawi, shared that the hotel works with select OTAs to further drive domestic sales through special packages during the upcoming May/ June Malaysian school holidays.

It recently rolled out a package for members of Glenmarie Golf & Country Club during the March school holidays, promoting a 4D2N “escape to a private island resort” for two adults and two children.

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