PETALING JAYA: With the school holidays around the corner, more Malaysian families are travelling within the country and postponing overseas travel amid the Covid-19 outbreak.
Entrepreneur Eileen Cheah, 42, said the global health scare had turned her attention towards local attractions in the country when planning for family holidays.
“My sons have not been to Taman Negara yet, so that is something that we are looking at doing this year. My husband is also planning a fishing trip to Mersing with the boys, ” said the mother of three.
She added that other local destinations on her radar included Pahang, Terengganu, Sabah and Sarawak.
Cheah said she was keen to explore the islands on the East Coast and discover nature in Sabah.
She recently cancelled the family holiday to Hokkaido, Japan.
Instead, the family went back to her husband’s hometown in Sitiawan, Perak.
“Since we are travelling with my children and in-laws, we decided not to take risk by doing any international travel.
“There is a fear of being quarantined when we are travelling abroad. If we spend the school holidays at our hometown, at least we will be among familiar faces in a familiar environment in case anyone falls ill, ” she said.
Business development head Subasiri Ramakrishnan, 29, will travel locally with her family, but she will avoid the Petronas Twin Towers and Bukit Bintang area.
“Many of my friends and cousins with toddlers are looking to travel locally, but we want to avoid crowded places to minimise any risks, ” she said.
Travel operators have turned their attention on the domestic market as part of the Visit Malaysia 2020 campaign, which still retains its target of 30 million tourist arrivals and RM100bil tourist receipts.
The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) is hosting its first-ever domestic version of the popular travel fair on April 4 and 5.
MATTA president Datuk Tan Kok Liang said the packages offered to foreign visitors could be offered to domestic tourists.
“The difference this time would be lower pricing for the same tour packages offered by tour operators that have incorporated lower costs such as cheaper airfares and hotel rooms.
“It is the best time to travel domestically as service providers such as airlines, hotels, restaurants, theme parks and tour operators would be having promotional offers to entice Malaysians, ” he said.
“Through this, holidaymakers will get the best value for their money.”
Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) chief executive officer Yap Lip Seng said hotels would introduce special packages to attract local travellers.
“Instead of just discounting room rates, hotels are also encouraged to add value, provide additional services with the rooms, and enhance guest satisfaction, ” he said.
The government on Thursday unveiled incentives to boost local tourism in the 2020 Economic Stimulus Package.
This includes a personal income tax relief of up to RM1,000 on expenditure related to domestic tourism, as well as digital vouchers for domestic tourism of up to RM100 per person for domestic flights, rail and hotel accommodations for all Malaysians.
Housewife Nooratiqah Aminudin, 29, said the incentives made local travel more appealing amid the health crisis.
However, the mother of two will try to avoid some activities like swimming and going to crowded places.
Tourism Malaysia director-general Datuk Musa Yusof said Malaysians should grab the special domestic travel packages.
“When we travel local, we are directly supporting our local industry which will help stimulate our own economy.
“When our economy prospers, the positive effects will carry over and benefit more than the tourism sector and contribute to the prosperity of Malaysia as a whole, ” he said.
Musa added that homestays, island resorts and theme parks were great family-friendly options.
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