Tourism Malaysia will be increasing destination promotion efforts in Germany following the loss of direct air connectivity between Malaysia and Germany on March 1.
Lufthansa’s suspension of its Frankfurt-Kuala Lumpur service, which had been in operation since 2004, translated to a loss of over 100,000 direct seats per year to Malaysia, said Mohamed Amin Yahya, director of Tourism Malaysia Frankfurt.
To ensure that Malaysia is not forgotten, he said the NTO would be developing “tactical campaigns and collaborations” with other airlines that provide connectivity from the German market to Malaysia.
For example, Tourism Malaysia and Singapore Airlines will be signing a marketing collaboration agreement during ITB Berlin to bring in more German tourists to destinations such as Penang, Langkawi, Sabah and Sarawak, he said.
Mohamed Amin said the destination’s brand awareness would also be raised through advertising. “We will place advertisements in the relevant German newspapers, and in the tourism trade and consumer magazines,” he said.
A new taxi and tram advertising campaign, which involves 100 taxis, is running the entire month of March and features Malaysia’s most popular tourism products, such as the Gawai festival. This is complemented by big banner advertisements at the Berlin Hauptbahnhof train station, which runs to end-April.
Apart from fam trips, Mohamed Amin said the NTO was also conducting an e-learning programme for travel agents to keep them up-to-date on the latest offerings in Malaysia.
Elizabeth Wong, executive councillor of Selangor State Government and chairperson of the standing committee for tourism, consumer affairs and environment, said there were still connecting flights that would bring Europeans to Malaysia and the destination was becoming more affordable for them especially with the weakened Malaysia currency. Thirty per cent of Selangor’s tourism traffic is from Europe.
Malaysia’s inbound travel agents also remain sanguine despite the loss of direct air connectivity. Manfred Kurz, managing director, Diethelm Malaysia, said: “We did a check and found that only 18 per cent of our guests travelled on Lufthansa. The rest came through a Middle Eastern airline. Thus, we don’t expect this (suspension) to have a big impact (on business).
“Our partners have indicated that they will continue to sell Malaysia.”
Alex Lee, CEO of Ping Anchorage Travel & Tours, foresees a slight drop in the high-end segment from Germany, but expects volume to be maintained among middle-class travellers and backpackers who are likely to fly with a Middle Eastern airline to Malaysia.-TTG Asia.