Slow travel: Malaysians are taking fewer but longer holidays


Tourists will seek more meaningful travel experiences, such as mangrove conservation, in their post-pandemic holidays. — Filepic

Malaysians are taking fewer holidays but will stay longer at a destination now that travel restrictions have been relaxed.

This mirrors the general post-pandemic travel preference of most travellers in the region, says Marriott International chief sales and marketing officer (Asia Pacific) Bart Buiring.

“In the past, folks may have chosen to go to Langkawi for three days. But we are seeing folks stay for a considerably longer period of time, and often combining work and leisure in a creative new way,” he said.

According to Buiring, this means that Malaysians are taking fewer but longer trips to destinations that they have not explored in the past.

Buiring was speaking at a virtual event to highlight the Good Travel with Marriott Bonvoy programme recently.

His observation was something that many tourism experts are referring to as the advent of “slow travel”.

Data and analytics company GlobalData previously predicted that slow travel is set to become the next big post-pandemic tourism trend.

Slow travel mainly refers to the speed of which a trip is taken, where travellers take a train through Europe instead of flying, for example.

It also has a broader meaning of tourists staying in destinations for longer, emphasising a connection with local people, culture, food and music.

A live poll from GlobalData last year revealed that a trip longer than ten nights is more highly desired (22%) than a day visit (10%) or short break away from one to three nights (14%).

“The added hassle and cost of additional Covid-19 related travel requirements such as PCR tests and potential quarantine periods means that short trips lose value, justifying a longer trip,” the company said then.

It’s worth noting that many countries have begun relaxing travel requirements. More recently in Malaysia, travel rules were further eased as the country moves forward to the endemic phase.

Noting the latest global developments, Buiring said the the lifting of restrictions helps to accelerate travel momentum.

“The travel momentum is accelerating, not just based on my personal experiences, but we also see it in our hotels which is extraordinarily gratifying after two pretty tough years,” he said.

Buiring also pointed out that people are more purposeful in their travels now.

“Travel insights also reaffirm this focus on purposeful travel. The pandemic has shifted the way people travel. Folks are more thoughtful, typically plan longer trips, and they also seem to be making decisions with a purpose in mind,” he said.

Some of these purpose include engaging with local community and initiatives that better support the sustainability of the environment.

Other post-pandemic tourism insights that are unique to Malaysia is the rise of wellness and culinary tourism.

“Wellness is a trend that we’re seeing across Asia Pacific and is also evident in Malaysia. And obviously, folks in Malaysia are particularly focused on authenticity of food, and we have seen quite a lot of of travellers interested in a new culinary experiences particularly in our luxury hotels,” he concluded.

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