IPOH: Without tourists from China and Taiwan, local travel agencies are still not in good shape, as Malaysians prefer self-driving tours.
Malaysian Chinese Tourism Association (MCTA) president Paul Paw said Chinese tourists are still the largest foreign group for local travel agencies as they make up of a third of all inbound tourists.
“Tourists from China are still unable to visit Malaysia. Local travel agencies are not having full recoveries despite the opening of borders,” he said during the 14th anniversary of the Perak chapter of MCTA in Ipoh.
Locals are also not flying to China due to the expensive air fare and opt to travel to countries like Turkey and Europe, he added.
As for domestic tourism, local travel agencies can only focus on the East Malaysian market, as tourists have to fly to East Malaysia, he explained.
Various sectors may experience good recovery during the weekends due to the surge in the number of tourists, but not travel agencies.
Paw said local tourists normally self-drive to other states.
They might look for food and accommodation without having to go through a travel agency, he said.
Although the government offered cash aid to support travel agencies during the Covid-19 pandemic, Paw said the cash aid was insufficient.
He called for the government to provide special subsidies for travel agencies in arranging inbound and outbound tours.
Paw also urged the government to streamline the visa application procedures as well as Covid-19 standard operating procedures in order to attract more tourists to the country.
The various chapters of the association are in the midst of organizing international travel fairs to promote the tourist industry, he said.
The first travel fair will be held from July 1 to 3 in Perak, followed by Penang from July 2 to 3, Kuala Lumpur from July 8 to 10 and Johor Bahru from July 29 to 31.