JOHOR BARU: Tourism industry players here are baffled by the fact that fewer Singaporeans crossed over during the Hari Raya festive break.
They said despite the first day of Hari Raya falling on a weekend, the usual heavy congestion at the two land crossings between Johor and Singapore was not seen.
Johor Tourist Guides Association president Jimmy Leong Wei Kong said everyone had been expecting a huge influx from the republic over the long weekend.
“With Hari Raya falling on a Saturday this time, we were expecting a large number of Singaporeans.
“Surprisingly, it was rather quiet this time. The traffic at the Causeway and the Second Link was smooth, which is rare during festive times.
“Apart from those coming here to celebrate Hari Raya, we were also expecting others to travel to Johor to make use of their holidays, but that was not the case this time,” he told The Star.
Leong believed the increase in Covid-19 cases in Singapore could have been a factor.
“There has been a surge in Covid-19 cases in Singapore and many may be taking precautionary measures to avoid being infected.
“This may include postponing travel to other places, including to Johor,” he said.
Malaysian Association of Hotels Johor chapter chairman Ivan Teo said the occupancy rate for hotels this Hari Raya was about 20% lower compared with 2019, when the border was last open before the pandemic hit.
“Even bookings for Ramadan buffets were lower this year. Last year, there was a surge in bookings during Hari Raya as the border had just reopened and many Singaporeans were excited to spend their holidays here again. However, this year things were slow,” he said.
Teo said the haze could also have contributed to the drop in the number of visitors to Johor this festive season.
However, Tourism Johor director Suhairi Hashim said the number of arrivals from Singapore had not dropped.
“We cannot compare to last year as at that time the border had just reopened, but if we were to compare to pre-pandemic times, it was almost the same.
”On April 14, Singaporean Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said the republic was in the midst of a new wave of Covid-19 infections, with the estimated number of daily cases going up from about 1,400 a month ago to 4,000 the previous week.