Malaysia woos the Middle East in spite of high airfares

High airfares are expected to impact Middle East arrivals to Malaysia during this coming summer travel season, starting mid-June and lasting for three months.‌

As travellers from Saudi Arabia, Malaysia’s main Middle East market, usually travel with extended families, Ally Bhoonee, executive director, World Avenues, said high airfares could be a deterrent.

Enquiries in Cameron Highlands (pictured) are on the rise

As travellers from the Middle East tend to book their holidays at the last minute, Bhoonee finds it still too early to gauge business health. However, he is optimistic that strong interest in the destination remains, and the trick is to lure this segment with city, beach and theme parks as these have proven popular with the Middle East market.

Arokia Das Anthony, executive director, The Essence of Asia Tours and Travel, also admitted that high airfares would impact arrivals this year. However, the summer season could still prosper on the back of high-end Middle Eastern travellers, he opined. Enquiries from Middle Eastern outbound agents during his participation at the recent Arabian Travel Mart (ATM) were mostly for private villas, luxury cars and all-inclusive packages. There were also more enquiries for Cameron Highlands and Sabah.

While Universal Holidays’ CEO Zahira Tahir said her company received many enquiries for incentives from the UAE and Saudi Arabia for 3Q2023 and 4Q2023, she acknowledged that “high airfares will affect materialisation rate”.

In its efforts to promote Malaysia to the Middle East market, Tourism Malaysia led a sales mission to Manama in Bahrain and Kuwait City in Kuwait, post-ATM. The sales mission, held from May 7 to 9, was aimed at strengthening Malaysia’s presence in the market, promote Malaysia as a preferred holiday destination to tourists from Gulf Cooperation Council nations, and to update the travel trade industry about new tourism products, packages, and attractions.

Activities included meetings with Gulf Air, Kuwait Airways and top outbound travel agents from Bahrain and Kuwait.

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