China tourists to Malaysia fall during Golden Week

About 180,000 Chinese tourists visited Malaysia during the week-long China's National Day holidays from Oct 1 to 7 last year.
About 180,000 Chinese tourists visited Malaysia during the week-long China's National Day holidays from Oct 1 to 7 last year.PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LUMPUR • Tourist arrivals from mainland China to Malaysia dropped by an about 30 per cent to 35 per cent during last week's Golden Week break compared with the same period last year, according to industry players.

They said it was the first time Malaysia posted a fall in tourist arrivals from China during the "Golden Week" peak season.

About 180,000 Chinese tourists visited Malaysia during the week-long China's National Day holidays from Oct 1 to 7 last year.

"Inbound tourism from China was very weak this time... Local tour guides went overseas for holidays during this Golden Week. I estimated a fall of over 30 per cent in Chinese arrivals last week," said Datuk Keith Li, who owns the travel agency GTC Group in Kuala Lumpur. He is also president of the China Entrepreneurs Association in Malaysia.

Mr Mint Leong, deputy president of the Malaysian Inbound Tourism Association, said he estimated a fall of 30 to 35 per cent in Chinese tourist arrivals last week. "This is quite a serious drop, given that there was an increase of outbound tourists from China."

Former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak said in a Facebook post yesterday that the drop was a result of political attacks focusing on relations and investments with China. He said such political ploy and criticism continued beyond the May 9 general election and it will impact the country's economy negatively.

"Today, the media reported that the number of tourists from China has dropped some 35 per cent recently, which is the first time it has ever occurred. Previously, such tourists increased every year as China is one of the biggest tourist sources for Malaysia," he said. "Not just durian and tourists. In fact, even the price and total export of palm oil have dropped drastically after GE14... Good diplomatic relations are of utmost importance."

 
 

Last year, Malaysia attracted 2,281,666 tourist arrivals from China, netting RM13 billion (S$4.33 billion) in tourist receipts, according to Tourism Malaysia.

"Apart from the comments by politicians, there is a lack of big guns promoting Malaysian tourism in China," said Mr Leong, noting that Chinese Premier Li Keqiang described how he fell in love with durian in 2015 during a visit to Malaysia.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 10, 2018, with the headline 'China tourists to Malaysia fall during Golden Week'. Print Edition | Subscribe