MAHO president Low Gee Tat told StarBiz that occupancy rates had fallen during the Ramadhan month and there was evidence of slower take-up rates in October.
“But in the last quarter of the year, we should do all right and this will extend until first quarter of 2009,” he said, pointing out that people normally planned ahead of their travel.
“There is a cautionary mood of what’s after that. We’ll be happy if occupancy rates in the second half of 2009 stay the same as this year.” he said.
Occupancy rates at city hotels are more consistent than the ones at resorts as resorts are affected by seasonal factors.
For example, visitations to beach resorts drop during the monsoon season.
Resorts, which tend to have more international travellers, are also affected by the holiday season in Europe or Japan.
Up to 80% of arrivals in Malaysia are regional tourists from Asean countries and China while the remainder come from the US, Europe, Australia and the Middle East.
Low said this trend was likely to continue in the next one to two years, especially since Asean countries were liberalising travel policy.
“Given the global economic outlook, we’ll have to drum up regional and domestic travel to compensate for any shortfall in international arrivals,” he said.
Low reckoned that an economic slowdown would prompt tourists to opt for more affordable destinations like Malaysia.
“There are hotels (in Malaysia) that suit every budget,” he said, noting that air fares were becoming very affordable thanks to no-frills airlines.
Tourism Malaysia had also done a great job in leading promotions with its Visit Malaysia and Malaysia, Truly Asia campaigns, he said.
But things could improve, Low said, pointing out that parks and gardens, as well as tourist attractions such as butterfly farms and Batu Caves, should be upgraded to attract visitors.
“We do not need to re-invent the wheel but we need to make them more attractive and cleaner for people to enjoy,” he said.
Source : STAR
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