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Tuesday, March 14, 2017
Silver lining for Malaysia despite fewer European links
Ironman Malaysia. Credit: www.ironman.com
After Malaysia lost some key European
connections last year when national carrier Malaysia Airlines cut these routes,
agents in the country are finding a silver lining in niche products and
secondary source markets from Europe.
“The market has been turned upside down – our
main problem is losing connectivity from Frankfurt – and we can’t depend on old
methods anymore,” said Uzaidi Udanis, president of Malaysia Inbound Tourism
To convince Europeans to choose Malaysia
despite the hassle of connecting flights, Uzaidi said offerings must be “niche”
and go beyond “general sightseeing”. Examples, he said, are islands and
beaches, the Ironman marathon (Malaysia and Japan are the only Asian countries
to offer this), and for more mature markets, rainforest treks.
Ahmad Fathil Abd Ghani, manager (event and
promotion), Tourism Terengganu, added: “Local content is more important to
Europeans than to, say, mainland Chinese. For instance, Italians don’t like
cold, hard, business-like hotels in Redang. They prefer Perhentian, where more
hotels are homegrown and where they can mix with the local people.”
Fathil said there are also opportunities in
markets like Hungary and Czech Republic, which enjoy connections to Kuala
Lumpur operated by Turkish Airlines.
Admitting that awareness of Malaysia is
lacking in these countries, he said they nonetheless warrant a serious look as
some traditional markets are showing signs of plateauing. There has not been a
big increase in German arrivals into Malaysia, which is now around 130,000
visitors, he said.
Uzaidi also saw “strong interest” at ITB
Berlin and has secured a few groups for MITA members from Eastern Europe.
Endut, managing director of Hedaco Travel & Tours, said: “I’m not worried
about Malaysian Airlines cutting off (European) routes. People don’t mind
making a transit, flying on Etihad, Qatar, Emirates, etc. A lot of my clients
from France have told me they prefer and love these routes.”