Malaysia is seeing improved incentive travel demand from regional markets this year, but large gatherings numbering into the thousands are still rare, say inbound operators.
At press time, Malaysia’s largest incentive group scheduled for 2023 is a 3,000 pax gathering led by Taiwan’s WOW Prime Corporation, with staggered arrivals from March 26 until September 28.
Inbound operators told TTGmice that air connectivity is to blame. Although capacity is improving, it has yet to recover to 2019 levels.
Mint Leong, managing director of DMC Sunflower Holidays, is confident that her regular client since 2010, China-based health and wellness company, Perfect China, will return to Malaysia in the third or final quarter.
Sunflower Holidays has handled Perfect China’s incentives annually since 2010, but activities were halted for two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to Leong, discussions are ongoing with the management to bring the incentive back to Malaysia.
However, Leong doubted that attendance would match pre-pandemic levels, where group sizes averaged 6,000 to 8,000 delegates. In 2016, it peaked to 12,000 delegates.
She said: “Flight connectivity as well as high airfares remain the two biggest challenges. We are working on persuading them to return to Malaysia this year with staggered arrivals.”
Sunflower Holidays is currently handling a proposal for a 1,000-pax incentive travel group from Taiwan for a five-day/four-night programme in Kuala Lumpur and its surroundings. Should this project be confirmed, the trip will take place in 3Q2023.
Tourland Travel has secured an Indian incentive travel group from a multi-level marketing company for 8,000 qualifiers this October, with programmes in Kuala Lumpur and a day trip to Genting. Managing director A Aruldas said participants will arrive in batches over 10 days.
He believe that as air accessibility between Malaysia and India improves further, it will be easier to promote the destination in 2024.
Arokia Das Anthony, executive director of The Essence of Asia Tours & Travel, has had enquiries from India for corporate incentive events since August 2022. Group sizes range from 800 to 5,000 people.
“These big groups are interested in Kuala Lumpur,” shared Arokia.
While interest is strong, glitches in Malaysia’s e-visa process for Indian travellers last year had left a sour taste in the mouths of many Indian agents. Glitches on the website had caused many applications to get rejected, disappointing those who had purchased air tickets but could not travel.
Significant improvements have materialised, but Arokia said the damage had been done and many Indian agents are reluctant to sell Malaysia.