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Malaysian holiday interest in China, South Korea slides
S Puvaneswary, Kuala Lumpur, May 27, 2013

TRAVEL demand for China and South Korea, two traditionally popular destinations for the Malaysian school holiday period that begins today, has fared poorly this year, according to outbound tour operators.


Malaysian Harmony Tours & Travel CEO, Cooper Huang, has seen a 30 per cent year-on-year drop for China, with some clients who had booked packages before the H7N9 avian flu reports changing destinations. Bookings for South Korea were also down by 20 per cent due to tensions between North and South Korea.


On the other hand, tours to Europe grew 30 per cent as airlines dangled competitive fares.


Likewise, Abdul Rahman Mohamed, deputy general manager, channel management, Mayflower Acme Tours, said outbound travel to China and South Korea had fallen 20 per cent.


“We’ve had cancellations or deferments for China. With South Korea, I think the hype is over. Malaysians are no longer romanticising about South Korea. I think this is the main reason, rather than tensions between North and South Korea.”


Sedunia Travel Services’ business development manager, Gary Oh, also saw slow pick up for the two countries, but noted increased demand for neighbouring destinations such as Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia.


However, Malacca-based Bel Travel & Tours managing director, Goh Hock Gin, said the H7N9 bird flu reports in the media had not affected demand and noted that growth in bookings for Greater China tour packages had climbed by 10 per cent year-on-year on promotional airfares. Bookings for customised tours, especially from repeat travellers, were also rising.


Furthermore, demand to South Korea increased “easily by 20 per cent”. Goh attributed strong sales of 4D/3N family packages to AirAsia X's affordable airfares, saying North-South Korean tensions had not affected his sales.

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