KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 8 ― Johor’s draw as a tourist destination among visitors from China has caused return flight tickets to double and even triple during the annual Golden Week holidays there.
Malaysian Inbound Tourism Association (MITA) president Uzaidi Udanis said some tourists from China have resorted to visiting Malaysia after transiting at Singapore due to the limited direct flights, vernacular newspaper Sin Chew Daily reported today.
“The Johor Tourism Department has revealed that due to the limited return flights between Malaysia and China, some Chinese tourists who plan to visit Johor will first fly to Singapore's Changi airport, before coming to Malaysia for their vacations. Bus and tax operators are now busy serving the big numbers of Chinese tourists,” he was quoted saying.
Uzaidi reportedly noted that there are only two flights daily between the Chinese city of Xiamen and Kuala Lumpur and that AirAsia is currently the sole airline providing direct flights between Kunming and Kuala Lumpur, saying that the high demand has caused return flights originally priced between RM800 and RM1,000 to exceed RM2,500.
He said Sabah's capital Kota Kinabalu is also a hotspot with Chinese tourists, also noting that hotels in the four cities of Johor Baru, Kota Kinabalu, George Town in Penang and Kuala Lumpur are packed.
He said he would be heading to China to negotiate for the opening of more numbers of direct flight routes between Malaysia and China in preparation for next year's Golden Week holidays.
Golden Week in China typically refers to the seven-day break starting October 1 to mark the founding of the People’s Republic.
Malaysian Association of Hotels president Sam Cheah Swee Hee said the new RM10 hotel tax recently imposed have yet to affect Chinese tourists who are in the middle-income bracket and above, citing the high occupancy rates of over 80 per cent at most hotels.
“But some of the lower-income group will choose to have their vacations in other countries because of this measure, this will affect hotels that focus on affordable tourism,” he was also quoted saying by Sin Chew Daily.
Cheah said hotel operators had carried out promotions in line with Golden Week, besides working with tour agencies to push tour packages inclusive of hotel stays.
During the week-long holiday from October 1 to October 7 in line with China's National Day, many Chinese nationals go on holidays.
According to travel agent Ctrip.com International's estimates, around 710 million Chinese nationals are expected to travel domestically during the Golden Week period, while about six million are expected to go overseas.
Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz had previously said Malaysia hopes to attract three million tourists from China this year, and to increase this to four million next year and double this figure to eight million by 2020.
In 2016, Malaysia had 2,124,942 visitors from China, contributing to the overall figures of 26,757,392 tourists to the country that resulted in tourist receipts of RM82.1 billion.
Malaysia aims to draw in 31 million tourists with tourists' receipts of RM114 billion for 2017, and has a target of 36 million tourists with RM168 billion in tourist receipts by 2020.