The Malaysian Reserve

Connectivity still an issue for Europe tourists

(From left) Tourism Malaysia deputy DG Datuk Mohmed Razif Hasan, ECTAA secretary general Michel de Blust, Mirza and Hallik during the media briefing for the ECTAA in Europe on Monday (Pic by Ismail Che Rus/TMR)

Tourism Malaysia DG says they hope to revive the market by targeting about 1.5m tourists from Europe into the country

BY LYDIA NATHAN / Pic By ISMAIL CHE RUS

European tourists visiting Malaysia have declined for the last five years mainly due to connectivity issue.

2014 marks a tragic year for the sector after two major air disasters involving flights MH370 to Beijing and MH17 that crashed in the Ukraine. In addition, Malaysia Airlines Bhd (MAB) had to slash down its unprofitable long-haul flights mainly to Europe which affected the loss of thousands of jobs.

MAB has been struggling to recover since then.

Direct flights to Paris, Amsterdam and Rome were among the destinations affected.

Instead, the airline enhanced its codeshare partnerships both within and without the alliance of one- world by forming partnerships with Emirates.

Last year, the country welcomed 25.9 million tourists, which is a 3% decrease year-on-year, with RM82.2 billion in tourism receipts. Out of the 25.9 million, 1.1 million hailed from Europe, which is a drop of 1.7% compared to 2016.

Tourism Malaysia DG Datuk Seri Mirza Mohammad Taiyab said despite the decline in numbers over the last five years, this year, they hope to revive the market by targeting about 1.5 million tourists from Europe into the country.

“The last five years have benn showing been the gradual declines of European tourists. One of the main reason is the connectivity issue between Europe and Malaysia. We will revise the 1.5 million target once flights are reinstated. It is a conservative target because I know Malaysia can easily welcome in two million tourists if we want too,” he said at a recent press briefing in Kuala Lumpur.

He said to mitigate this problem, efforts are being put into collaborating with other foreign airlines like Singapore Airlines and Turkish Airlines.

Tourism Malaysia, the marketing arm of the Ministry of Tourism and Culture aims to put Malaysia as a top global travel destination, while at the same time, highlights the nations’ exquisite tastes in culture, food and authentic experiences.

According to Mirza, its recent venture with the European Travel Agents’ and Tour Operators Associations (ECTAA) in Europe, saw a surge in the number of tourists in January and February this year.

The target for 2018 is to welcome 33.1 million tourists globally with RM134 billion in tourism receipts.

On average, hotel occupancy currently hovers at around 60% to 62%. Tourism Malaysia will also be receiving an additional allocation for Visit Malaysia Year 2020 but the amount has yet been finalised.

Malaysia became the first country outside of Europe to host the ECTAA in Europe meeting on Monday.

Mirza said this meeting is part of an initiative to drive the industry ahead of Visit Malaysia 2020 and will look to strengthen its presence in the European market by increasing the number of tourists this year.

In the aim of fostering relationship between the two countries the meeting welcomed about 46 delegates from 25 countries across Europe.

ECTAA president Merika Hallik said she was glad the delegates were able to experience Malaysia for themselves.

“Although we are here on business and not as tourists we look forward to the post-conference tours,” she said.