PETALING JAYA: Hotels in Malaysia are hard hit by a 30% drop in the number of Chinese tourists, says the country’s main association for hotels.
Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) said the drop could be seen during the recent “Golden Week” during National Day holidays in China, compared to the same period last year.
MAH president Cheah Swee Hee said more Chinese tourists opted to visit Japan and Europe during this period, instead of Malaysia and Thailand.
“We don’t have real data on other tourist segments, but with the Chinese tourists, it’s obvious. A lot of hoteliers are complaining that occupancy rates aren’t picking up,” Cheah told FMT.
The average occupancy rate in Kuala Lumpur is below 60%.
He said the popularity of home-sharing services such as Airbnb is also another factor that has hit the hotel industry.
In Sabah, MAH said hotels recorded between 15% to 25% drop in Chinese tourists, as well as a decline in the arrival of high-end Chinese tourists.
MAH Sabah and Labuan chapter chairman Thomas Willie blamed the drop on the trade war between China and the US, which has affected China’s economy.
He said Chinese tourists were also choosing other destinations in the region.
But Willie does not think the decline in tourist arrivals is linked to the change of government in May.
“The past few years we put all our eggs in one basket by banking on the Chinese tourists,” he said.
He said the termination of direct flights from Kuala Lumpur to major cities such as New York, Perth, Stockholm and Johannesburg was also a factor.
“We need to give airlines more incentives to come to Malaysia,” said Willie.
Last week, the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) voiced concern over the drop in Chinese tourist arrivals.
It said Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Cambodia and Vietnam had recorded more Chinese tourists.
Matta president Tan Kok Liang said Malaysia should ease its visa policy and also make available more facilities that are popular with the Chinese, such as online payment platforms Alipay and WeChat Pay.
Malaysia recently revised its tourist arrival targets for 2018 to 26.4 million from 33.1 million, despite saying in August that we were on track to meet the target set by the previous government.