Malaysians’ desire to travel remains strong

by HARIZAH KAMEL / Pic credit: pangkorlautresort.com

THE huge growth in the country’s domestic tourism during the second half of 2020 (2H20) is evidence of Malaysians’ pent-up desire to start travelling again.

Agoda corporate development VP Timothy Hughes said Malaysia’s domestic tourism was the biggest the platform has ever seen around the time when restrictions were relaxed, adding that regional destinations experienced never-before-seen demand in years.

“During 2H20 when domestic tourism was open, we saw some of the greatest growth in Malaysia’s history, so the desire for Malaysians to travel was crystal clear. Some areas in Malaysia experienced demand that they had not seen in years. We saw this across the board in Asean as well.

“Looking at the top 10 destinations that did well in Asean such as Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia, we saw places that never made it to the list before,” he said during Maybank Kim Eng’s Invest Asean 2021 webinar titled ‘Is Asean Tourism Dead?’ yesterday.

Commenting further on the appearance of new destinations in Agoda’s list, Hughes said this is because people were keen to get out of cities and into the countryside, highlands or beaches.

When asked if there is a possibility of Asean countries reopening tourism as a bloc similar to the European Union, Hughes noted that the opening of borders depends on vaccination numbers.

“So, whether Asean can open up as a bloc is linked to the speed of the vaccination rollout,” he said.

Hughes projected that the multi-speed recovery across the world is going to dominate 2022, where some countries would already be open to travelling, while others are still waiting to get their vaccination levels to the right speed.

“Consumers will come back for domestic travel first before exploring other markets around them, which is two to three hours outside of their capital city.

“However, we were surprised at how fast they were confident to get back on airplanes and fly around. That data came through both in the search activities of consumers and flight data,” Hughes shared.

He reiterated that the demand for travel is unquestionable, but the industry and governments must prioritise getting their populations vaccinated.