Number of Chinese tourists lower than expected

PETALING JAYA: The number of Chinese tourists coming to Malaysia during the Lunar New Year is lower than expected due to fewer direct flights as well as high airfares, say industry players.

However, they are optimistic that there will be an influx of tourists from China from next month, and they urge the government to support the tourism industry by increasing the number of flights.

Malaysia Inbound Tourism Association (Mita) president Uzaidi Udanis said a lack of flights had made it challenging for travel agents to plan tours.

“Previously, we used to have between 30 and 100 people in a tour group.

“Today, we only have an average of 20 people every tour because of limited flight seats and expensive airfares, which have increased tour costs,” he said.

He cited the example of Singapore, which offers daily return flights to China; Malaysia only provides two to three flights each week, he claimed.

And the unpredictable airfares had led to the constant changes in tour prices, he said.

He noted that most Chinese tourists coming to Malaysia were keen on visiting Penang, Kuala Lumpur and Genting Highlands.

Uzaidi also spoke about standardising the procedures for these visitors.

“I received a complaint about Chinese tourists having to download the MySejahtera application before they are allowed to enter the country. “

Apparently, an immigration officer had given such an instruction to a group of Chinese travellers, he said.

This, he said, had caused problems to the visitors as they could not download the application from their phone.

Malaysia Inbound Chinese Association president Datuk Dr Angie Ng said she was supportive of the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry’s target of welcoming five million tourists from China this year.

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