Golden Opportunity for Tourism

Malaysia is one of the most popular travel destinations for mainland Chinese tourists during their eight-day national holiday period, which started yesterday.

China’s largest travel portal – Ctrip – placed Malaysia 10th in the list of top destinations for October’s golden week, predicting that more than six million travellers from the Middle Kingdom will head overseas during this pe­­riod.

Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) president Datuk Tan Kok Liang said the industry was glad to achieve this ranking.

“Last year, the growth was 26.7% as compared to 2015,” he said, citing increasing air connectivity with major Chinese cities as a contributing factor.

Asked if the tourism tax would affect the number of arrivals, Tan said the lure of Malaysia’s attractions, shopping, food, beaches and similar cultures more than outweigh the tax, which has a “nominal impact”.

“For example, based on a five-day package and twin-sharing in a room for a tour package of RM3,000, the additional cost is only RM25 (per person), which is less than 1% of the total cost,” he added.

The tourism tax, which came into effect on Sept 1, imposed a RM10 flat rate per room per night on foreign tourists boarding at hotels, inns, resthouses and motels.

“Also, tour operators can get an exemption if packages were booked before Sept 1,” he added.

Malaysian Association of Hotels president Sam Cheah said the long holidays allowed mainland Chinese to travel longer.

Cheah said the industry had planned marketing and promotional activities in conjunction with the period, with high hopes of capitalising on the high-yield Chinese market.

“The majority of the Chinese market has always been on the higher end of the segment with higher spending power on hotel rooms,” he said, adding that it was a golden opportunity for tourism destinations to capture, capitalise and remarket themselves to the ever-growing number of Chinese travellers.

In GEORGE TOWN, tour operators are ready to cater to tens of thousands of Chinese tourists during this period.

Malaysia Inbound Chinese Asso­ciation public relations officer Saw Beng Teik said a daily arrival of about 150 tour groups, comprising 5,000 Chinese visitors, were expected.

He said most of the flights to Malaysia from Chinese cities were fully booked.

“Feedback from hoteliers and airline companies showed bookings have increased compared to last year,” he said.

The retail sector would prosper with huge spending expected from the Chinese visitors, he added.

Penang Tourism Development Committee chairman Danny Law said the occupancy rate at beach hotels was 80% while 70% of hotels in the city centre were already booked.