Weaker ringgit likely to attract inbound tourists


Having a blast: Algerian tourists posing for the camera during a trishaw ride within the George Town Heritage enclave in Armenian Street, Penang. — ZHAFARAN NASIB/The Star

PETALING JAYA: The weaker ringgit will likely attract more inbound tourists and eventually strengthen the economy with more foreign currencies coming into the country especially the US dollar, tourism players opined.

Malaysian Inbound Tourism Association (Mita) president Uzaidi Udanis said tourism was one sure way to ensure foreign currency comes into the country.

“When you have inbound tourists coming in, they will be spending money here, thus creating a demand. So, with foreign funds coming in, the economy and the ringgit will be strengthened.

“Right now, we have those from the Asean region coming especially from Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and even India. But we also need those from the long hauls to come.

“There are 1.2 million flights available to Malaysia from various airlines and destinations, which is about 35% of the flights in 2019. So a lot still needs to be done to improve this sector,” he said.

Kuala Lumpur Tourist Guides Association honorary secretary S. Anbarasu said Malaysia had always been one of the most affordable tourist-spending destinations and now our goods and services had become more affordable to inbound tourists.

He said now tourists could also get more from their budgeted spending in Malaysia, compared to the pre-pandemic situation.

“This is also attractive for other aspects of tourism like medical tourism as treatment in specialist private hospitals in Malaysia now become more affordable than before.

“In business tourism too, the cost of hosting such events is much more affordable in Malaysia and will encourage more international participation.

“This attractive proposition allows more employment opportunities in our local industries including the tourist guiding profession.”

He added that Malaysia had more than 10,000 tourist guides licensed by the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry and a sizeable number of these talents were qualified and licensed to offer quality guiding services in many foreign languages.

Malaysian Chinese Tourism Association president Paul Paw agreed the weaker ringgit could be good for inbound tourists’ spending to increase.

“You can see a lot of Singaporeans capitalising from the US dollar and spending in Johor Baru, which is good for the state.

“More and more tourists are coming in but at the same time, we need the flights to also increase for this to happen,” he said.

“For recovery, I would say about 30% for inbound, and this is because China, Taiwan and Japan are still unable to travel,” he said, adding that prior to the pandemic, millions of Chinese tourists used to travel the country.

However, Datuk Aruldas Arulandu of Kuala Lumpur Tourism Association said Malaysia should be positioned as a value for money destination.

“As the US dollar becomes stronger against the ringgit, Malaysia is set to be a more affordable destination for tourists.

“When they see it like this, tourists will likely spend their money because when they come in, they bring the US currency to exchange to ringgit.

“But the strengthening of the US dollar is across the board even among the Asean countries, which means everyone will benefit from this exchange,” he said.

Meanwhile, retail manager James Tho, 30, said he was finally comfortable to travel abroad after two years of staying put during the pandemic.“My partner and I are already making plans to travel sometime next year.

“Our preferred destinations would be either Japan or Taiwan, as we have always wanted to visit them but never had the time to do so,” he said.

He added that the weakening ringgit however could be a thorn in their plans for travels abroad.

“It means we will have to work harder to earn more for a comfortable holiday overseas. We will also keep tabs on the exchange rates whenever possible.

Interior designer Janet Ling, 32, has a trip lined up for South Korea in the coming weeks.

“This was something in the making for the past four months and now that the ringgit has weakened, we may need to adjust parts of our itinerary to accommodate,” she said.

Ling, who will be travelling with her group of friends, added that she also did not expect the ringgit to be at its current state when they first began planning for the trip.

“We’ll make do with what we have, and hopefully it will be a good time for all,” she said.

Software engineer D. Selva, 33, is now having second thoughts on travelling due to the sliding ringgit.

“I wanted to have a nice year-end getaway, preferably somewhere in Europe, but the ringgit’s value is not exactly favourable at the moment.”

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