JOHOR BARU • Johor's food and beverage industry has been affected by a decline in tourist arrivals from Singapore due to ongoing tensions between the city state and Malaysia, as well as delays at the immigration checkpoints, news portal The Malaysian Insight reported yesterday.
It said Singaporeans made 10.62 million trips to Malaysia last year, a drop of 14.7 per cent compared with 2017.
The drop caused the country to miss its target of 26.4 million tourist arrivals for last year. It recorded only 25.83 million visitors.
Malaysia-Singapore Coffee Shop Proprietors' General Association president Ho Su Mong said its Johor-based members lamented that their operations have been affected due to the decline in Singaporean tourists.
As a result, business has decreased by as much as 30 per cent, Mr Ho told The Malaysian Insight.
Many Singaporeans are also put off by the long queues at Malaysia's immigration checkpoints.
"Johor's tourism industry thrives on visitors from Singapore. This has also impacted the service industry in a big way.
"Besides the overcrowded checkpoints and long waiting hours, the ongoing tensions between the two countries also have an effect. Many choose not to come here because of problems between the countries," Mr Ho said.
Mr Ho was referring to the ongoing airspace and maritime border disputes between the two countries, as well as Putrajaya's call for Singapore to pay more for the raw water it buys from Johor.
Echoing Mr Ho's views, Federation of Hawkers and Petty Traders' Association Malaysia president Yow Boon Chuan said hawkers in the southern Malaysian state also complained that their businesses have suffered since early this year.
"Business has been bleak since Chinese New Year because of decreasing tourist numbers and the economic downturn," Mr Yow said.
Hawkers who ply their trade at the state's numerous night markets depend on tourists to keep their operations afloat as tourists constitute about 30 per cent of their income.
Malaysian Chinese Tourism Association president Albert Tan Sam Soon said the decline in Singaporean tourist arrivals in Johor can also be attributed to low airfares, which allow them to opt for other destinations such as Penang, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam.
Tourism Malaysia director-general Musa Yusof previously said the declining number of tourist arrivals from Singapore could be due to the gridlock on the Causeway as well as Singaporeans' increasing preference for "new and different experiences".