NEW DELHI: Malaysian tourism officials are optimistic Indian holidaymakers will continue to spend billions of ringgit in Malaysia this year despite global economic strain or airlines revamping routes.
Last year, 693,000 Indian travellers arrived on Malaysian shores and splurged a staggering estimate of over RM2 billion during their stay compared with merely 140,000 visitors a decade ago.
“India is a fast-moving and matured market; we are confident of reaching 730,000 visitors this year,” Tourism Malaysia acting director-general Azizan Noordin said in an interview with Bernama today.
India is rated top sixth tourist sending countries to Malaysia, only after neighbouring Asean and China, and Malaysian authorities are determined to maintain the momentum this year.
The United Nations World Tourism Organisation forecasts global tourism to grow in 2012 although at a slower rate, mainly due to stalled economic recovery, but optimistic Malaysian planners say otherwise for the Indian market.
Even the withdrawal of budget carrier, AirAsia, from key Indian cities – Mumbai and Delhi – later this March is unlikely to dent the healthy trend.
“Impact will be short term only, initially budget travellers will be affected.
“But eventually they will use other carriers flying to neighbouring countries like Singapore or Thailand and travel to Malaysia,” said P Manoharan, Tourism Malaysia director for India, who assumed a key role in tapping the mega-rich Indian travel industry.
Azizan is leading a strong 42-member delegation to India, comprising travel agents, hoteliers and government bodies.
He is also mounting a sales mission to Karachi in Pakistan this week, another untapped potential market for Malaysia, with only 73,000 visited from the country last year.