MALAYSIAN DMC Red Apple Travel & Tours is taking on the challenge of promoting Sabah and Sarawak to the Indian market – a task many have attempted but few have succeeded in – by targeting the luxury and youth markets.
Suneet Goenka, group managing director of Red Apple Travel & Tours, said to TTG Asia e-Daily: “Being of Indian descent, I know the needs and wants of the Indian traveller. They do not like to walk too much and they are not adventurous, being more inclined towards sightseeing, cruises, island-hopping, and spas.
“The youth segment is more adventurous and are willing to try local cuisine and experiences, but they have a lower disposable income. Thus, for this price-sensitive segment, we promote Kuala Lumpur as a transit to continue their journeys on to Kota Kinabalu and Kuching.”
Red Apple soft launched its tour products into Kuching and Kota Kinabalu late last year to its partners in India including Cox & Kings, Thomas Cook India, Kesari Tours, and TUI India, and has received over 200 bookings to date.
Suneet said the company aims to bring 1,500 visitors into Sabah and Sarawak.
Other Malaysian inbound tour operators based in Kuching and Kota Kinabalu said the main challenge in promoting the destinations on Borneo Island to India is the lack of destination awareness.
Samuel Chung, managing director of inbound agency Straits Central Travel & Tour Agencies Kuching, commented: “(Indian travellers) don’t know that hotel rates in Kuching are generally lower compared to other Malaysian destinations like Kota Kinabalu, Kuala Lumpur, and Langkawi. The rate of a five-star international branded hotel in Kuching is about RM300 (US$92) per night for twin-share with breakfast.
"There are also Indian restaurants in Kuching, so food is not an issue,” he added.