Malaysia eyes 50,000 visitors from ME

As soon as borders opened in Malaysia on 1st April this year, first three months saw almost 21,000 people visiting the country for family leisure vacation or business. The destination expects to close the year with 50,000 visitors from the ME region, says Syaliza Abd Aziz – Deputy Director – West Asia, Africa & Pakistan Unit – International Promotion Division (Asia/ Africa) – Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board.

TT Bureau

What are the latest offerings Malaysia has to attract Middle Eastern travellers?

Genting Skyworlds Theme Park, the world’s second tallest skyscraper Merdeka 118, Sunway Resort in Kuala Lumpur that just reopened after a once-in-a-generation transformation and Desaru Coast. There are no new rules for the Middle East countries as they get visa upon arrival to Malaysia.

How is connectivity from Middle East? Has it become it was during pre-COVID times?

Currently there are 21 direct flights per week from the UAE, 21 flights from Doha, seven (7) flights from Muscat and two (2) flights from Kuwait City, and the number of flights are lesser than during pre-COVID times.

Any new restrictions within Malaysia for travellers? Any protocols to adhere to?

Malaysia is one of the most hassle-free countries to visit in the post-pandemic. Travellers are no longer required to oblige for the traveller’s card, pre-departure test and on-arrival test as well as home surveillance order. Travel insurance is also no longer a prerequisite for foreigners entering the country.

Since opening how has the visitor numbers from Middle East been? Have they been family travellers, solo, business or what type of travellers?

The number of visitors from the Middle East since the opening of our borders from April to June 2022 is 21,521. Most of them were travelling with families and business purposes to Malaysia.

The travellers who visited post pandemic, what were they interested in?

The post pandemic travellers tend to choose off the beaten track destinations, less crowded places and to endure into more personalized tours instead of the normal massive tour. Most of the Middle East travellers are still more interested in city tourism, shopping tour as well as cultural and heritage tourism. Besides that, Malaysia has also a lot of Instagram able or scenic view to be captured into a social media feed by the Gen Z and millennial travellers while travelling.

Do you have any expectations in terms of numbers for the rest of the year or the last quarter or three months of the year?

Our target for this year arrival from Middle East is 50,000 tourists.

Malaysia is famous for its natural rain forest, how would you promote this to attract Middle East travellers?

We strongly believe that our success is a collective effort of all our industry and trade partners. As such, we will continue to form strategic partnerships with industry players in efforts to reach out to a larger market. We look forward to working with airlines, tour operators, and other industry sectors to push Malaysia as an exciting yet affordable tourist destination. Tourism Malaysia is working closely with Malaysia Association of Hotel (MAH) and Malaysia Inbound Tourism Association (MITA) to create more packages for inbound tourists to Malaysia, and with MATTA to promote inbound tourism; We also provide support to partners in the areas of providing resources, training and promotional materials, as well as working together on tactical campaigns. Besides participating in major events such as World Travel Mart (WTM), International Tourisme Bourse (ITB), Arabian Travel Mart (ATM), ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF) and China International Travel Mart (CITM), we also support our partners in their local and niche trade shows.

We are also aware of new opportunities and platforms that can leverage our tourism presence. For example, we are utilizing digital media more in recognition of its reach to the modern traveler. For Middle Eastern market, we have positioned Malaysia as year-round destination for families and value for money destination. Among others, one of the main programs that we have embarked is the joint tactical campaigns with Qatar Airways and Emirates to lure more connections into Malaysia. Reasonably priced holiday packages and attractive airfare to Malaysia are being promoted as part of our joint promotions in support of our mainstream advertising campaign. Our advertising campaigns are done using all the medium of electronic including television commercials, printed ads in newspaper and magazines, outdoor billboards and the online social media. The television commercials and printed ads portray the various attractions activities for the families and honeymooners as our target segment.

Will Tourism Malaysia promote new destinations for the ME market? If so, could you please explain them.

We will continue to promote our latest destination such as Genting Skyworlds Theme Park, the world’s second tallest skyscraper Merdeka 118, Sunway Resort in Kuala Lumpur that just reopened after a once-in-a-generation transformation and Desaru Coast with interesting packages.

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