PETALING JAYA: Many Malaysians did not travel overseas in 2016 due to the weakening ringgit, say travel agencies.
Harith Mohd Ali, president of travel organisation Pengembaraan Bumiputera Malaysia (Bumitra) said many travellers cancelled trips overseas due to the higher costs they would have to incur after the ringgit weakened.
“There is a decrease in overseas travel this year (2016). My own travel agency saw a 10% decrease in overseas travel compared to last year.”
“People just aren’t as excited about travelling as before because they are thinking about costs. Our economy has been affected by the weakening ringgit.”
As an example, Harith said in early 2016, a holiday package to Beijing, China would cost RM3,000, but this had increased from between 20 to 25% after the ringgit weakened.
After the Republic of Korea and Japan, China is the most popular travel destination for Malaysians.
J Horizons Sdn Bhd general manager Saira Sani said at present, her company could only rely on corporate companies for their survival.
“We are able to survive because corporate companies continue to support us and give us business. Ever since people started directly booking hotels and flights online, travel agencies have experienced slower business.”
Harith said he did not anticipate an increase in overseas travel on the horizon, so long as the economy remained weak in 2017. He also voiced hope that the government would take proactive measures to strengthen the economy and stabilise the currency.
Meanwhile My Caring Borneo Sdn Bhd general manager Linna Masud said she did not feel the weakening ringgit had a huge effect on overseas travellers, especially among those who were younger.
“The weakening ringgit does not affect overseas travel as the trend now is for people to go on holiday every year,” she said, adding the percentage of those travelling every year was on the rise.
She also said younger travellers were more aggressive compared to those who were older, with 30% of the former flocking to popular holiday spots like Bali and Lombok in Indonesia, the Maldives and Boracay in the Philippines.