Winter is coming, and it’s good news for tourism

Optimistic: Leong said that traditionally, tourists from countries such as South Korea, China and Japan prefer visiting at the end of the year to avoid the cold winter back home, while Suhairi (right) says tourism operators are ready for the influx.

JOHOR BARU: While tourism in Johor has picked up, it still hasn’t reached the level it was before the Covid-19 pandemic struck.

That might change when the snows fall in East Asia.

Johor Tourist Guides Association president Jimmy Leong said while the state has seen more visitors from Singapore and Indonesia in recent months, it is looking forward to the return of tourists from South Korea, China, Japan and others.

Tourists from these countries traditionally like visiting Malaysia at the end of the year to avoid the biting winter back home, he added.

Malaysia reopened its borders fully from April 1 and lifted all Covid-19 entry requirements on Aug 1.

“Typically, the end of the year is a busy period for us with many foreign tourists from South Korea, Japan and some parts of China coming for a long-term visit and golfing.

“This year, it depends on the Covid-19 situation and whether these countries will fully open up their borders by then,” he said, adding that there are already inquiries from these nations.

Leong said Putrajaya has held a number of meetings with tourism industry players in the past few months to ensure they are prepared to handle a potential influx of visitors.

He added that manpower continues to be one of the main challenges faced by the industry, particularly for hotels, where they have seen an exodus of workers to other sectors.

“Getting them back into the industry is not easy and one of the reasons is the salary.

“The same goes for tour guides, especially those who speak foreign languages,” he said.

Leong estimated 30% of tour guides have left to join other sectors since the Covid-19 pandemic.

Tourism Johor director Suhairi Hashim, however, said the worker shortage is slowly easing.

“We can’t deny that there is still an issue with manpower in all sectors, but we can see that the situation is improving.

“There is also an encouraging interest among young people in joining the tourism industry and we hope to see such interest growing amid the economic recovery,” he added.

Suhairi, who also said a majority of tourists entering Johor are from Singapore and Indonesia, added that more are expected from China once the country reopens its borders.

“Industry players here are more than prepared to welcome both local and foreign visitors.

“The only problem is the limited flight frequency, which has affected the number of foreign visitors,” he said.

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tourism , Johor , winter


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