Weakening currency draws leisure and business travelers into Malaysia

Deputy Transport Minister Ab Aziz Kaprawi said air fare prices could increase as high as five-folds during peak periods.. Pic: Phuong D. Nguyen/Shutterstock

THE declining value of Malaysia’s ringgit has pulled in more overseas leisure and business tourists into the country, and has contributed to a surge of foreign currency in the local economy.

South China Morning Post reported that hotels in major cities like Penang have recorded excellent occupancy rates, and the year-end holiday season makes for good timing.

Cititel Penang, The Wembley Penang and Cititel Express communications manager Karen Chee told the publication that both Wembley and Cititel had high occupancy rates.

She said, “The occupancy rate of the three hotels is between 80 percent and 100 percent over the next few weeks.”

Cities like Penang have recorded excellent occupancy rates. Pic: Damian Pankowiec/Shutterstock

The falling ringgit is also pulling in many Singaporeans into cities like Penang and Johor Bahru. On the other hand, many Malaysians who are visiting Universal Studios Singapore are choosing to stay in Johor Bahru for a cost-saving holiday.

Malaysia’s MICE and business travel industries are also affected; the weakening ringgit is drawing more Singaporeans to head up south to hold business events.

TTG Asia reported that Malaysian inbound MICE players have seen a spike in bookings and arrivals after the currency fell nearly seven percent in November.

Francis Teo, head of the Setia City Convention Centre in Selangor, told the publication that the weak ringgit has also given rise to more Malaysians joining multi-level marketing programmes to further supplement their incomes.

Meanwhile, Malaysia Airlines has benefited from the currency slump with increased forward bookings by 50 percent compared to this period last year.

Chief executive officer Peter Bellew said, “The airline has had tremendous group booking enquiries from the ASEAN region, spiking by almost 400 percent.”

However, Bellew expressed concern about depressed yields because of intense competition from the region coupled with the fact that most of the airline’s costs are dealt in US dollars.

He told The Star, “The volatility of the dollar is a major concern, given that most of our costs are in US dollars. However, the lower cost of fuel, which we have hedged as much as possible, will balance out the rise of the US dollar.”

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