Malaysian tourism thrives amid weak ringgit

Malaysian inbound players have reported improved business prospects this year, as the weak ringgit grants travellers greater buying power.

The ringgit has weakened substantially against the US dollar, declining by more than 10 per cent since the start of 2022. It has also weakened when measured year-to-date against other major currencies such as the euro, pound sterling, Japanese yen, and Singapore dollar.

Access to Sibu has been aided by AirAsia’s direct flights from Singapore

Anthea Yeo, director of sales and marketing at Grand Margherita Hotel & Riverside Majestic Hotel in Kuching, said she was seeing increased volumes of group tours out of eastern Europe.

She shared: “In the past, group sizes were around 15 people. Now we see 20 people or more in a group.”

Ling How Kang, managing director of Sibu-based Greatown Travel, revealed that many Singaporeans visiting Sibu are now purchasing additional luggage before departing, just to stow their haul from shopping sprees in Sibu — local food products and handcrafted items are popular.

He said Sibu is still considered a new destination for Singaporeans, and access is aided by AirAsia’s direct flights launched in December 2022.

He said: “In 2H2023, we’ve observed a growing interest among Singaporeans to visit Sibu. The number of travel groups has surged, and group sizes have expanded from 10 to 12 during the initial flights to groups numbering in the 20s and 30s. Forward bookings are also looking promising.”

Hannah Choo, director of sales, CPH Travel Agencies (Sarawak), noted that although her Italian guests still prefer budget accommodation, they are enriching their itineraries with more nature-based tours.

Meanwhile, Rosmawati Sayuti, the proprietor of Bayu Lestari Island Resort in Johor, disclosed that her 21-room resort successfully hosted two private weddings for guests from Australia and New Zealand this year, with organisers reserving the entire resort for those occasions. Furthermore, a television production team from Sweden has reserved the entire resort for a three-month period in the coming year.

According to Rosmawati, the devaluation of the ringgit has contributed to making the destination even more appealing to international visitors.

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