VACATIONERS are for now suspending plans to visit popular destinations such as Japan, South Korea and China due to current Covid-19 restrictions imposed by the respective governments.
Instead, Malaysians are traveling to destinations closer to home, such as Vietnam and Thailand, said Edwin Tay, president of the Johor chapter of the Malaysian Chinese Tourism Association (MCTA).
On top of that, he said travel packages to European countries were also successful as many of them lifted most of their restrictions.
The freedom to enjoy a vacation without too many restrictions was a primary consideration for most travelers, Tay said.
“Turkey, which was one of the first countries in the world to lift its travel restrictions, is a crowd favorite.
“This is evident in the encouraging number of packages sold at the three-day Malaysia International Travel Mart we hosted.
“China’s borders are still closed due to Covid-19 while Japan requires a travel visa, which is not easily approved.
“Those who travel to South Korea and Taiwan are subject to regular PCR testing and a quarantine period, which makes them more expensive when you factor in those costs, so people are considering other countries. to travel easily,” he said.
As for domestic destinations, the top-selling packages at the recently held travel fair were Semporna in Sabah, followed by Langkawi in Kedah, Pulau Tioman in Pahang and Pulau Besar in Johor.
“We have also noticed that the level of confidence in travel is increasing among Malaysians, which is a positive sign for the tourism industry as a whole.
“Previously, travelers were very concerned about the Covid-19 situation in the countries of interest.
“But these days they’re willing to pay a booking fee immediately after finding out about prices and times,” he said.
Tay also said the association was preparing for its next travel fair, which is due to be held after Chinese New Year next year and will focus on promoting Muslim-friendly tour packages.
Kathryn Lee, organizing president of the Johor chapter of the Malaysian Travel and Travel Agents Association (MATTA), said that apart from overseas package tours, cruise packages were also selling as “small breads”.
“Cruises from Singapore, Port Klang and Penang are very popular.
“Holiday-makers have the choice between four-, five- or six-day packages.
“Prices for these cruises start from RM1,000 per person, including onboard entertainment, meals and sports,” she said.
She also said that Penang remained a popular national holiday destination as many bought the RM599 three-day, two-night packages, including airfare and accommodation, during the MATTA fair held in Johor Baru earlier this month.
Lee hoped that these travel fairs would further contribute to the recovery of the tourism industry.