More Indians see Malaysia as top holy destination

By NNN-Bernama

New Delhi : More cash-rich and globe-trotting Indians are landing on Southeast Asian shores, enticed by irresistible travel packages at competitive rates, and Malaysia certainly appears to top their holiday itinerary.

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Tourist traffic from India to Malaysia continues to grow, touching 315,000 visitors this year until September compared to only 270,000 for the whole of last year, and Indian travellers spent RM724.7 million (US$216.2 million) so far this year – up by a cool 30 per cent compared to last year.

“Indians are now looking at the Far East for their holidays and Malaysia is a favourite destination because of its value-for-money packages. For this festival season, tourist traffic has increased by 25 per cent,” Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board Director for India P. Manoharan told Bernama.

The agency is successfully marketing Malaysia as an exciting and affordable tourist destination in the region, which helps draw more Indian tourists to its shores, especially during the year-end when Indians escape the harsh winter to sunny spots.

Tour operators are buoyant about the Malaysian market as well and many are enjoying brisk business during the festival season.

“My booking for this December is 1,200 (travellers) compared to 575 last December, which is a 110 per cent market share growth. Malaysia is not only beautiful, it’s a good value-for-money destination.

“It is becoming a Number One destination for Indians in the region and even the recent (street) protests have not affected us,” said Raghuvinder Singh, director of Delhi-based D’Pauls Travels, a leading tour operator specialising in the Malaysian sector.

The uncompromising hospitality industry, affordable hotels, the scenic vistas and friendly cosmopolitan population are the major pull factors for Indians opting for Malaysia, pointed out Manoharan.

Added to this, India itself becomes expensive during this time of the year due to visiting international tourists and non-resident Indians returning home for festivals and marriages during the next few auspicious months ahead.

Five-star hotel rates in Delhi, for instance, are at nothing less than US$500 per night and most of them are heavily booked too. Moreover, there are limited luxury hotels in booming Indian cities to cater for the rising number of holiday-makers.

“It is far more expensive for Indians to go for local holidays during this period because demand is high. It is 30 to 40 per cent cheaper if they go to Malaysia,” said Manoharan.

Numbers seem to justify the healthy growth trajectory and the Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board has set a more ambitious target of 500,000 Indian visitors for next year, breaching this year’s 400,000 mark, said an optimistic Manoharan.

Optimistic too is Raghuvinder, who is eyeing a 100 per cent growth in his booking for 2008 — a jump from nearly 9,000 visitors this year to 16,000 next year.