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Indians lose fascination for Malaysia on high airfares, few attractions
S Puvaneswary, reporting from PATA Travel Mart, September 27, 2012
 

HIGH airfares, limited seat capacity on flights linking the major cities of New Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai to Kuala Lumpur during the peak summer season, and the dearth of new attractions in Malaysia has made the country less sellable to Indian travellers.


According to Kuala Lumpur-based Tina Travel managing director, Adam Kamal, Malaysia Airlines’ (MAS) airfares on these routes cost some Rs10,000 (US$187) more than those to Bangkok and Singapore.


The higher airfares are also a result of the service tax imposed by the Indian government on every outbound traveller since July and the depreciation of the Indian rupee against the Malaysian ringgit by some 16 per cent since January.


MAS now has a monopoly on routes connecting Kuala Lumpur to New Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai since AirAsia X and Jet Airways exited these destinations earlier this year.


Kamal said his incentive business had dipped by 20 per cent year-on-year from the three cities due to the reduction in air seats, and that the Indian market had fallen by 10 per cent overall.


A buyer from New Delhi, Guldeep Singh Sahni, managing director of Weldon Tours & Travels, also saw a 25 per cent and 30 per cent year-on-year drop in leisure travel and outbound MICE respectively.


He warned: “If airfares to Kuala Lumpur remain high and companies move their dealer incentive programmes to another destination, it will be difficult to get them back as many companies have a policy (of repeating) destinations.”


Sahni, who is also the president of the Outbound Tour Operators Association of India, added: “Tourism Malaysia seems to be working with a few top (consultants) in India instead of a lot of (consultants) like before. (It) should not forget the smaller (ones).”


“Tourism Malaysia and the airlines should also work together to promote new destinations apart from traditional destinations, such as Kuala Lumpur, Genting, Penang and Langkawi,” he suggested.


Another buyer, Rajat Sawhney, Rave Tours & Travels New Delhi’s managing director, said: “Our biggest problem selling Malaysia as a leisure destination to repeat visitors is the lack of new attractions. There is nothing new coming up in Kuala Lumpur, Genting, Penang and Langkawi.


“Sabah, Sarawak and Taman Negara are new destinations with a lot to offer to the Indian traveller and should be given a push in a bigger manner. Sabah and Sarawak will involve additional domestic airfares from Kuala Lumpur but Indians are willing to travel if the destination is nice.”


An outbound leisure and MICE travel expert from Mumbai, Classis Travel & Tour director, Rajendra Dhumma, agreed that new destinations in Malaysia have to be given more attention. He also called on the NTO to organise more fam trips beyond Kuala Lumpur and Genting.


“There are new attractions that are opening in Johor, such as Legoland Malaysia and some theme parks, but there are insufficient promotions to Indian agents. We see the sellers here at PATA Travel Mart, but they should also be promoting at Indian travel marts,” said Dhumma.

 

 
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COMMENTS
I totally agree with Mr. Guldeep Sahni. Travel Trade has been experiencing difficult time.. Thanks to USD / INR ratio + increase in Govt. taxes + increasing airfares + unethical competition by online portals (who tend to display cheaper prices on front page and include taxes on the paymet page) + decreasing airlines commissions = Decrease in overall volumes
Posted by: Vineet Arora
27-09-2012 18:29:30
 
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