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  • Malaysia a major draw for healthcare travellers

    Petaling Jaya, MALAYSIA — International tourists are coming to Malaysia on medical tourism junkets, lured by high-quality yet affordable healthcare and the good climate.

    “It’s more lucrative than conventional tourism because healthcare travellers tend to stay longer for their treatment and check-ups,” Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) ground transportation vice-president S. Jayakumar said.

    On average, a healthcare traveller spends a minimum of two weeks in the country.

    “After their treatment they prefer to recuperate here and usually stay for long periods.

    “We make more profit when their relatives come from their home countries to visit them while they are recovering here,” he said.

    Jayakumar said Malaysia was also a preferred choice for its year-round warm weather.

    “European healthcare travellers prefer to recuperate in our climate as it can be more comfortable compared with the cold weather back home,” he said.

    The Health Ministry said the country welcomed about 850,000 medical tourists in 2015 with revenue amounting to more than RM900mil compared with RM777mil in 2014.

    This revenue is from hospitals and excludes additional expenses by medical tourists such as food and accommodation.

    While the latest statistics have yet to be released, it is believed that there were more than one million medical tourists last year.

    “It’s expected that there will be a gradual 10% increase of such visitors this year,” said Jayakumar.

    International Living, a US-based publication which focuses on global retirement and relocation opportunities, put Malaysia on the number one spot in its index on countries with the best healthcare in the world.

    “Malaysia has some of the best-trained doctors in Asia and the majority of them were trained in the US, Australia, or the UK.

    “All of them speak English too, and that takes a lot of the stress away from what is already a stressful situation,” it said on its website.

    The report also highlighted that the number of medical tourists arriving in Malaysia went up by about 100% in the past five years.

    Keith Hockton, who is the International Living correspondent here, said that 80% of healthcare travellers to Malaysia come from neighbouring countries but there was an expected increase this year from Australia, United States, New Zealand, Europe as well as the Middle East and north Africa.

    “Numerous hospitals in Penang and Kuala Lumpur are among South-East Asia’s first recipients of the United States’ prestigious Joint Commission International certification.

    “Malaysia has no less than eight hospitals with JCI-accredition which is seen as the gold standard for healthcare service providers around the world,” he said.

  • Malaysia to record highest outbound travel ratio in Asia-Pacific by 2021, Mastercard predicts

    Singapore, SINGAPORE — Malaysia is expected to record the highest ratio in outbound travel in relation to the total number of households with 198.7 per cent by 2021 from 178.4 per cent in 2016.

    A recent Future of Outbound Travel in Asia-Pacific (2016 to 2021) report by Mastercard revealed that Malaysia is the highest among emerging markets and fourth highest after Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

    International outbound travel trips by Malaysians were 11.9 million in 2016 and are expected to grow by an average of 3.5 per cent per year to reach 14.2 million trips by 2021.

    “About 46.1 per cent of outbound trips are by Malaysian households earning above US$30,000 (RM132,820) per annum in 2016, an income range that accounts for 24.4 per cent of all households.

    “This put the concentration ratio at 1.9, second lowest among higher income households of emerging markets after Thailand at 1.8,” the report said.

    Meanwhile, outbound travellers from emerging Asia-Pacific countries currently outnumbered those from developed Asia-Pacific countries by one-and-a-half times.

    The figure is poised to grow more than twice over the next five years, 7.6 per cent versus 3.3 per cent of Cumulative Annual Growth Rate.

    The report said Asia-Pacific markets are expected to grow by six per cent annually from 2016 to 2021.

    “Not surprisingly, the largest outbound travel market in 2021 is expected to be China with 103.4 million trips, constituting 40 per cent of all Asia-Pacific outbound travel.

    “It is nearly four times that of South Korea with 25.6 million and India with 21.5 million,” the report said.

    Forecast international outbound trips from the top 10 Asia-Pacific markets by 2021, include Japan 19.4 million (fourth), Taiwan 16.3 million (fifth) and Malaysia 14.2 million (sixth).

  • T’ganu allocates RM80 million for 2017 tourism campaign

    Kuala Terengganu, MALAYSIA — A whopping RM80 million has been set aside for ‘Visit Beautiful Terengganu 2017’ (VBT2017) to woo an estimated 5.5 million tourists.

    Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Razif Abdul Rahman said the budget will be used for promotional campaigns highlighting the state’s many attractions.

    The campaign’s success will, in turn, uplift the socio-economic wellbeing of the people and tourism industry players.

    “The idea is to cater for the petty traders, entrepreneurs, taxi drivers, restaurateurs, hoteliers, tour and travel agents, arts practitioners and other tourism players,” said Razif.

    He added that VBT 2017 is riding on the success of last year’s ‘Pesona Terengganu’ tourism programme.

    Razif was speaking during state-level Chinese New Year celebrations at an open house in the city’s Chinatown district, where he handed out angpows to senior citizens.

    The event also saw the launch of the Bahasa Malaysia version of VBT 2017’s theme song, ‘Beautiful Terengganu – I Love You’, by Terengganu tourism and culture committee deputy chairman Wan Abdul Hakim Wan Mokhtar.

    Over at Primula Beach Hotel here, the first day of Chinese New Year saw families from the Chinese and Malay communities enjoying reunion dinners at the packed restaurants and coffee houses that were resplendent in red décor. A lion dance performance and giant mascots entertained guests at the hotel lobby before the set and buffet dinner were served.

  • Malacca tourism industry to thrive in spite of Tourism Malaysia office closure

    Sepang, MALAYSIA — The unexpected closure of Tourism Malaysia offices nationwide, including in Malacca, will not affect the state’s tourism industry, its Chief Minister Datuk Seri Idris Haron said today.

    He said Malacca’s tourism office is well established, with complete facilities to carry out its own tourism marketing and promotions.

    “The closure of (Tourism Malaysia’s office) will not have an effect on us, because Tourism Malacca (is) able to stand alone.

    “Tourism Malaysia had acted as a medium to relay the ministry’s (initiatives) in promoting tourism. Without the office, we could get the information straight from (Tourism Malaysia’s) website,” he told reporters at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) today.

    However, he urged the federal government to provide a concrete reason for the abrupt closure of all Tourism Malaysia offices.

    Last week, Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz announced the closure of 14 Tourism Malaysia offices throughout the country to avoid job duplication with state agencies in promoting tourist attractions.

    Idris was today met at an event marking Tourism Malacca’s collaboration with Malaysia Airports Berhad (MAHB) at the KLIA and klia2, where elements of Malacca, such as dances and cultural shows, are being showcased to attract tourists to the state.

    He and MAHB managing director Datuk Badlisham Ghazali welcomed hundreds of Chinese tourists, who arrived via China Southern Airlines Flight CZ349, at the arrival gate of the airport.

    Idris said the collaboration will see Tourism Malacca’s dance troupes and folk singers performing at specific times at both airports for 25 days until Feb 15.

    The state’s iconic features, such as Beca Malacca (trishaw), will also be on display at the terminals, he added. Idris said Malacca targets 16.75 million tourists this year, 500,000 more than 2016.

    “In 2016, the state saw an increase of 472, 692 tourists, or 53.77 per cent from the previous year. “This year, we are also focusing on Chinese tourists, who made up 1.35 million, or 8.3 per cent, of total arrivals (in Malaysia last year).

    We are looking at increasing the number of Chinese tourists to 1.5 million,” he said. Tourism Malacca has also launched ‘Destination Melaka’ – a mobile tourism application to promote the state to tourists, especially locals, Idris added.

    “With this application, users are able to get our latest travel information and an update on hotel accommodations, tourist attractions, places of interest, events, festivals, deals and promotions.

    “Mobile users can also play virtual games through the app, such as ‘Melaka 755 Quest’. Players are required to identify as many as 755 tourist attractions through the game,” he added. Besides the virtual app, Idris said Tourism Malacca has 159 events schedule for this year, with 18 major events set to uplift the state’s tourism industry.

  • Malacca expects 10% increase in tourist arrival from China for CNY

    Malacca, MALAYSIA — Malacca expects an increase of about 10% daily in arrival of tourists from China during the current Chinese New Year celebration.

    Director at the Malacca Office of the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, Jeffri Munir said Malacca recorded an average of 5,000 arrivals of tourists from China daily on normal days.

    He said the increase in the arrival of the Chinese national tourists would have positive effect on the state’s hotel industry, as well as for tour guides, car rental and tour bus service.

    “Tourists from China who come to Malacca are often handled by tour agents in Kuala Lumpur with agents in the state.

    “They normally come in groups and will visit places like the Hang Li Po Well, temples and museums,” he said when contacted by Bernama.

    Meanwhile, Malacca branch Malaysia-China Chamber of Commerce president Datuk Lim Kok Ann said the popular spot for the Chinese national tourists in Malacca during Chinese New Year was Jonker Street.

    “The Chinese New Year celebration in Malacca, especially at Jonker Walk, is merrier than in other states, with many red cloth and lanterns hung to bring excitement to the celebration,’ he added.

    Lim said Malacca was also a destination for tourists from China because of the existing Malaysia-China bilateral ties, especially in trade and tourism.

    He said implementation of the e-visa and electronic travel registration and information (ENTRI) by the government since March last year also attracted more tourists from China to come to Malaysia.

    In a related development, Malacca Malay Hotel Association honourary-secretary,Datuk Nur Sahar Osman said all rooms were fully booked in the state from tomorrow until Jan 30, except the homestays.

    Based on information received, 50% of the bookings are for tourists from China, he added.

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