JOHOR BARU: Having direct flights from Senai International Airport to India and China will help Johor grow as an aviation hub in southern Peninsular Malaysia and increase more tourist arrivals into the state.
Malaysia Tour Guides Association president Jimmy Leong said that having more international flights from Senai should be looked at positively as it could help elevate Johor as a major tourism destination.
“Right now, we are the ugly duckling as we are located in between two major airports, which is the KL International Airport (KLIA) and Singapore’s Changi Airport.
“When foreign tourists want to come into Johor, they will usually fly into Changi and leave the country via KLIA, or vice versa.
“If Senai International Airport receives the approval for direct flights to India and China, then more tourists will fly directly to the state,” he said here yesterday.
Leong added that Indian and Chinese tourists are desirable as they are known to be generous spenders, while Johor has a lot to offer.
“We have Johor Premium Outlets where they can buy branded goods, as well as fruit farms in the state. Durians in China are a delicacy and are quite expensive over there, and are sought after as gifts.”
Meanwhile, Malaysian Association of Hotels Johor chapter chairman Ivan Teo said having more international flights flying out of Senai will give an advantage to Johor.
“A lot of foreign tourists come into Johor via Changi Airport where they will be spending more time on the road due to the congestion at the Causeway.
“It will be more convenient for them if there are more international flights as Senai is just half an hour away from Johor Baru, compared to coming from Singapore,” he said, adding that it would also help ease congestion at the Causeway.
Earlier this month, state tourism, environment, heritage and culture committee chairman K. Raven Kumar said Johor is looking at having new international direct flights from Senai.
He added that he recently had a meeting with Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing to help promote tourism in Johor.
“Among the matters that were discussed also include increasing the number of direct flights from Senai to several countries within the region. We are looking at having direct flights to China, especially now that their borders are open following the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions there.
“Tiong will bring up this matter during his visit to China next month. We want to connect Johor Baru and five major cities in China,” he said, adding that Johor is also looking at having direct international flights to India.
Raven Kumar said that currently, Senai has direct flights to Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam.