PETALING JAYA: One reason for the decrease in Chinese tourist arrivals is because there are now more choices for them as every country wants to woo them, said Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) president Datuk Tan Kok Liang.
“Other reasons could also be due to the economic slowdown in China as well as bookings which are now done through online tour agents and Airbnb,” he added.
Star-rated hotels and licensed travel agents are also bracing for a possible drop of between 10% and 20% of tourist arrivals from China during the long Chinese New Year break.
“We cannot ascertain the numbers but based on ground sources, there may be a slight drop.
“Group arrivals may drop slightly, but the free independent travellers market appears to be picking up,” said Tan.
He added that the actual figures of the decline will only be known after the holiday period ends.
The Chinese New Year holiday as well as the “Golden Week”, a seven-day holiday from Oct 1 to 7, are the two peak periods during which a large number of Chinese tourists holiday abroad.
However, Tourism Malaysia said the arrival of tourists from China in February last year, during the Chinese New Year period, stood at 296,084.
This is an increase compared to 2017, where there were only 194,861 tourist arrivals during the Lunar New Year period, which fell in January that year.
From January to September last year, there were 2.28 million visitors from China, an increase of 34.2% compared to the same period in 2017.
Tourism Malaysia also said various efforts have been put in place to promote Malaysia as a tourism destination for tourists from China.
Among them include focusing on increasing access to Malaysia through various flights as well as promotions on chartered flights.
“We also take an active part in tourism exhibitions such as the China International Travel Mart, ITB Asia and China (Guangdong) International Tourism Industry Expo (CITIE),” said Tourism Malaysia.
In Kota Kinabalu, a brief survey on tour companies around the city found that tours for the Chinese New Year season are either full or almost filled.
For one tour company, however, the numbers are down below 50% of its usual Chinese New Year season tours.
“This time, we see a drop in business from China tourists because there are fewer chartered flights,” said one of the company’s employees.
Previously, during this period, she said her tour company received full bookings a few weeks or even months before the Chinese New Year.
But now, she said she still has many slots to fill.
“I think one of the reasons is that flights from China have diverted their routes to areas like Vietnam where it is cheaper,” she said.
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