Fewer tourists from China are coming during the two-week Chinese New Year holiday period next month, say industry players.
They expect a drop of as much as 10% compared to the same period last year. Much of it is due to changing of travelling trends and stiff competition from regional destinations.
Malaysian Tourist Guides Council president Jimmy Leong Wie Kong said the drop was not surprising considering the lack of promotion and marketing.
“The cut in the Tourism Ministry’s promotion and marketing budget is a big factor.
“We can’t deny that we will not be able to maintain the numbers that we have enjoyed over the past few years,” he said.
Leong said some Chinese tourists who had visited Malaysia before might opt to travel to those countries, especially the ones that offer visa-free entry.
“They will only consider visiting Malaysia again if the other regional destinations are fully booked,” he said.
Leong said new strategies were needed to tackle changes in travelling trends brought about by the emergence of online booking apps and e-hailing.
He said the previous zero-cost tours for Chinese tourists were now less attractive and deemed negative for the industry.
“Some states have put their foot down on zero-cost tours because of complaints received from Chinese tourists that they were fleeced by operators.
“Nowadays, dissatisfied tourists post their complaints on social media and this has given our country a bad image,” he said.
Malaysian Inbound Tourism Association president Uzaidi Udanis said the industry was becoming more competitive but the drop in the arrivals from China would not be too significant.
“We received about 250,000 Chinese tourists during the Chinese New Year holiday period last year.
“There will be a slight decrease this time around and this is expected because of the change in travelling trends among the 150 million Chinese passport holders who are now eyeing other regional destinations.
“They are shifting their focus to other destinations such as Thailand and Indonesia which are offering visa-free entry,” he said, adding that some 12 million Chinese tourists visited Thailand last year.
Uzaidi also said the era of Chinese tourists travelling in large tour groups was on the decline.
He said they tended to travel individually, with families or in smaller groups.
“This is because of the availability of online flight and hotel booking apps, including the convenience of using e-hailing for ground travelling,” he said.
Uzaidi said the introduction of free visas for specific periods would help boost the number of Chinese tourist arrivals.