Malaysia eyes inbound growth from Central Asia

Tourism Malaysia has outlined concrete plans – which include improving air links and building destination awareness – to grow inbound traffic from Kazakhstan, as the Central Asian country was among the fastest growing tourist source markets for Malaysia in 2018.

Arrivals from Kazakhstan surged 33.2 per cent from the corresponding period in 2018, from 6,385 tourists to 8,503 tourists. The length of stay of Kazakh tourists also increased by two nights over 2017 to 8.3 nights in 2018, while whole per capita expenditure grew 4.5 per cent in 2018 compared with the preceding year.

Shopping is a main drawcard for many Kazakh tourists to Malaysia

To improve the country’s accessibility, Tourism Malaysia is leveraging its joint international tourism development programme with Malaysia Airports, which provides cash incentives to attract more Central Asia Airlines to fly direct, as well as charter flights, to Malaysia.

Tourism Malaysia’s director-general, Musa Yusof, elaborated: “Our collaboration with Kompas Tour late last year resulted in three charter flights by Kazakhstan’s Sunday Airlines for the Almaty-Langkawi-Almaty sector in December 2018 and January 2019.”

He added that the NTO is in the midst of discussions with a few other airlines from Central Asia about the possibility of mounting more charter flights for the coming winter season.

Direct connections between the two countries are currently limited to Air Astana’s thrice-weekly flights between Almaty and Kuala Lumpur.

Meanwhile, to further increase per diem expenditure of tourists from Kazakhstan which averaged about RM534 (US$128) per person in 2018, Tourism Malaysia will be promoting multiple Malaysian destinations and encouraging expenditure on activities such as shopping.

Musa shared: “Currently, travellers from Kazakhstan prefer to stay at a beach destination for a few days before returning home. We would like to develop tour packages that combine multiple beach destinations and city attractions to encourage longer stays and higher expenditure. For example, Langkawi and Penang or Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu.”

Shopping also is a key element for this market, as travellers from Kazakhstan “love to buy electronic items and gadgets”, Musa revealed.

In addition to exhibiting at the recent PATA Travel Mart in Nur-sultan, Tourism Malaysia will be participating in the Tashkent International Travel Fair 2019 in November, and Kazakhstan International Travel Fair 2020 in April 2020 to promote Malaysia.

“I believe there will be many opportunities as well for us to explore possible collaborations with attendees such as tour operators from CIS countries to promote Visit Malaysia 2020 in tactical campaigns.”

Aside from Kazakhstan, the rest of Central Asia are emerging inbound source markets for Malaysia and have potential for growth.

Musa noted: “Our consistent marketing efforts and collaboration with airlines and tour operators in Kazakhstan has proven to be fruitful, resulting in strong growth in the market. We hope to continue the momentum and increase our marketing activities in the surrounding market areas.”

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