China, Japan and South Korea top the list of Malaysians’ year-end holidays
GEORGE TOWN: A weaker ringgit has led to many Malaysians planning their year-end holidays in Asian countries, with China and Japan topping the list.
Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) president Nigel Wong said Asian countries such as China, Japan and South Korea are the favourite destinations due to the exchange rate which is much better for Malaysians compared with the United States or Europe.
“China is popular now because they have reopened their borders after the pandemic.
“Travelling within the Asean region is also popular with the locals, especially to Thailand.
“Domestic tours are also doing quite well now due to the current exchange rate. International visitors are also slowly coming in,” he said.
Wong pointed out that most locals opt for Cuti-Cuti Malaysia because the cost of travelling and the availability of flights within Malaysia are both cheap and convenient.
“It has definitely gone up as people are now accustomed to travelling around our own backyard. Strong domestic consumption is a good thing and it will help spur our tourism sector,” he said.
Wong said the present cost of living will also dictate the travel plans of most people.
“The increase in price of goods and services has made things more difficult for some. Globally, everyone is feeling the pinch,” he said.
Wong said that while inbound tourism is healthy, at this point, more work still needs to be done to promote our country.
“If we want to match pre-Covid-19 numbers, we need to have more promotions.
“People still travel to places like Australia as well, but they do prefer places closer to home.
“It depends on the person’s budget. Domestic travel is a viable option,” he said.
Frankie Swea, who is the managing director of a reputed tour agency here, said China is the preferred destination for the coming holiday season as the country has just reopened its borders after three years.
“Places like Japan, South Korea and China are the top choices for those with a budget. When you compare the ringgit to their currency, there is not much difference,” he said.
Swea said previously, people chose to visit European countries in one holiday trip, but now, the trend seems to be a visit to one country at a time.
“Now, it looks like people seem to go for quality rather than quantity. For now, we see plenty of interest in Switzerland as it seems to a be a popular destination.
“What is surprising is that people do not mind travelling to Eastern Europe.
“With the war in Ukraine, there are still people wanting to travel to places like Budapest in Hungary and Romania. The spending power is still okay,” he said.
Swea said what is important is that there is no hidden cost in their tour packages.
“Travellers will have a budget and there should not be any hidden cost. When they know things like meals are provided in the package, it is better,” he said.