Malaysians hold off plans over election speculation

JOHOR BARU: A number of travel companies here are experiencing a slump in business despite the school holidays next month due to uncertainty on when the upcoming general election will be held.

Johor Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) chairman Kathryn Lee said rumours on the likely dates for the general election might have played a role in influencing Malaysians against travelling overseas next month.

“Usually, when there is a long upcoming holiday, many people will book their packages in advance to get a better deal.

“However, this time around, our MATTA Johor members have recorded slow bookings with a drop of 20% for the March school holidays,” she said when contacted here yesterday.

She said the dip in booking shows that the tourism industry is not spared by speculation on general election dates.

“Speculation that the election will be held soon might have influenced many people to postpone their plans.

“Many voters expect the election to be held in March because of the school holidays,” she said.

The school holidays next month is for nine days from March 16 and March 24.

Lee believes that the number of travel bookings would increase after the election.

On June 24, Parliament’s five-year term expires and an election must be held within 60 days of dissolution.

Upcoming festivals offer clues as to when Malaysia’s 14.8 million voters are likely to cast their ballots.

Chap Goh Meh, which marks the end of the lunar new year celebration, falls on March 2, while the provisional dates for the start of Ramadan and Hari Raya Aidilfitri are May 17 and June 15 respectively.

Records show that the average period between dissolution and polling for previous general elections is 29 days.

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