Malaysians still travelling despite fluctuating ringgit

Tan-Kok-Liang-ringgitPETALING JAYA: Malaysians are not about to get their travel wings clipped by the economic gloom. They are projected to be the second most seasoned travellers in Southeast Asia within the next four years.

Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) president Tan Kok Liang said the projection by the Association showed that despite the fluctuating ringgit, the country’s outbound tourism remained resilient, reported The Star.

“Malaysia is also expected to record the highest ratio of outbound travel in relation to the total number of households,” Tan said.

According to a report published by Mastercard on the future of outbound travel in Asia-Pacific between 2016 and 2021, Malaysians made an estimated 11.9 million international outbound travel trips in 2016 and the number is forecast to grow by an average of 3.5% annually to reach 14.2 million trips by 2021.

“The fluctuating ringgit has not discouraged Malaysians from travelling. However, now they are going to destinations nearer to home and are more cost-conscious,” Tan said.

He said with a rise in the number of flights within the region and more competitively-priced fares for journeys to Asean countries, more Malaysians are travelling to destinations nearer to home.

“From nature to beaches, food and culture, Asean countries have a lot to offer,” he said.

He added that Internet connectivity and availability of travel-related mobile apps have also helped give Malaysians “peace of mind” and confidence to travel abroad independently.

Tan said it would be good to convert some of these travellers to domestic tourists to boost the national economy and create more business opportunities.

“We hope that the government will look into possible incentives for domestic tourists,” he said.

Young Malaysians still enjoy travelling despite the current the economic gloom.

“The fluctuating ringgit will not affect my choice of travel destination,” said a 31-year-old teacher who wanted to be known only as Sal.

However, she said, it would affect other travel-related decisions, such as travelling off-season, staying in cheaper accommodations and getting around by walking or using public transportation.

Sal said she worked two part-time jobs just to fund her travels while she was still at university.