A weak currency is pushing Malaysians to holiday at home, according to the Malaysia Inbound Tourism Association (MITA).
As a holiday abroad is costlier for Malaysians with the Ringgit continuing to under-perform -despite a slight recovery this year-, domestic tourism is consequently booming and is growing faster than expected by tour operators. According to the Malaysia Inbound Tourism Association (Mita), the total number of inbound travellers is up so far by over 10% this year compared to the same period of 2016. It grows so quick that some industry players start to talk about the difficulty to cope well with the volume of local travellers.
According to Mita president Uzaidi Udanis to the newspaper Sunday Star, there have been cases where tour operators do not even have enough buses to accommodate all guests, be they foreigners or Malaysians. “As such, some have resorted to getting temporary bus permits while others pull their resources together,” he says.
“Operators are enjoying good business but they have to improve on managing logistics. Hopefully the lack of buses can be resolved soon,” Uzaidi explains to the newspaper.Domestic tourism is booming: In 2015, a total of 235.2 million trips were made by Malaysians around the country. This rose by 8% to 253.9 million trips last year, according to the Domestic Tourism Survey 2016 conducted by the Department of Statistics Malaysia. And this year should end up with almost 280 million of trips.
Encouraged by the positive trend in domestic tourism, Deputy Tourism and Culture Minister Mrs. Mas Ermieyati Samsudin wants to keep the momentum going. “Next year, we will continue strengthening our efforts to promote domestic tourism through the Cuti-cuti 1Malaysia Dekat Je campaign.
“It will also rev up the local industry ahead of Visit Malaysia Year 2020,” she says.
Next year, the ministry is targeting to have 72.6 million domestic tourists with an expected tourism revenue of RM51.2bil – a sum almost 6% higher than last year’s revenue of RM48.4bil from 66 million visitors. The government now plans to boost its presence at local tourism fairs to boost visibility to the public and raise awareness among domestic travellers over the attractions that the country can offer. They are also initiatives to strengthen promotion of agro-tourism and eco-tourism, which is gaining popularity.
“The ministry wants to increase foreign tourist arrivals as well, by encouraging excursionists, who cross the country’s borders into Malaysia for day trips, to become tourists, who spend more time here,” she says.
She also proposes for Tourist Information Centres to be upgraded and expanded to not only provide information but also serve as one-stop centres for selling tourism packages, concert tickets and booking accommodation.
Rather than getting turned off from travelling, the fluctuating ringgit led Malaysians to change their travel patterns by going to destinations closer to home, says Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) president Datuk Tan Kok Liang. But even so, he observes that Malaysia’s outbound tourism remains resilient, albeit with people being more careful.
(Source: The Sunday Star)