KUALA LUMPUR, May 24 — The decline in ringgit value has not resulted in a corresponding increase in travellers from Singapore to Malaysia, with last year’s arrivals reporting a 7 per cent dip from the previous year, according to figures from the Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board in Singapore.
A report in Singapore’s The Straits Times today said that the figures showed that 12,930,754 tourists from the island state visited Malaysia last year, down from the 13,932,967 arrivals recorded in 2014.
According to travel experts interviewed in the daily, one contributing factor could be an increase in interest in other travel destinations with weak or weakening currencies. Other factors include traffic congestion on the Causeway and fear of crime in Malaysia, the report said.
Dynasty Travel’s public relations and communications director Alicia Seah was quoted as saying that Singaporeans may be facing “fatigue” from frequent trips to their neighbouring country and are looking for other places.
“If you fly, or even travel by cruise ships or ferry, there are many competing, low-cost destinations like Bandung and Surabaya. You can be there in under two hours,” Seah told the Singapore daily.
She reportedly added that schools may be avoiding Malaysia for field trips after an earthquake in Sabah last year resulted in the deaths of seven students and two teachers.
Seah said schools are now showing more interest in other countries like China and Australia.
National University of Singapore's business school’s Associate Professor Ang Swee Hoon pointed out that last year, the Singapore dollar was stronger relative to several currencies like the Thai baht, the Australian dollar and the Japanese yen.
“Singaporeans, who probably have travelled to Malaysia before, would want to take the opportunity of a stronger Singapore dollar to visit countries farther away so that their money can be stretched further," Ang was quoted as saying.
She reportedly added that Singaporeans likely view Malaysia as a destination they could visit at any time, noting also that the ringgit has weakened against the Singapore dollar for some time now.
According to the report, the ringgit depreciated against the Singapore dollar past the RM3 mark for the first time last August.