Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Malaysians no longer putting travel plans on hold

The travel bug is back in Malaysia after an initial knee jerk reaction to the H1N1 flu outbreak.

Malaysians are no longer putting their travel plans on hold.

If the response at a recent travel fair in Kuala Lumpur is any indication, Malaysians are starting to come to terms with the H1N1 flu outbreak that has claimed more than 70 lives in the country.

Nearly 65,000 people thronged the three-day event organised by the Malaysia Tour and Travel Association - snapping up cheap air tickets and travel packages.

Retiree Madam Soo and her husband are planning their year-end getaway before winter - when a second wave of the flu is expected.

She said: "I should not worry, I should not wait. How long can we wait ? (There are) a lot of offers now...(so we) should take this opportunity to travel."

Mrs Mohd Ali, who has been keeping her three children at home over the past months, is also planning to take a break with her family.

She said: "Maybe (we will go to) Langkawi and Terengganu, where there are beaches...(these are) the best places right now."

Indeed, many tour and travel companies are now factoring the flu pandemic in their itineraries.

Consumers are opting for shorter holidays to domestic or nearby destinations instead of long haul travel to the US or Europe.

Chan Meng Fatt, senior general manager, Mayflower Travel, said: "On our planning side, what we do is that we emphasise on cleanliness, explore more open areas...whereby (people) do not get contained in enclosed areas, so our product emphasis is always on open space..."

Still, many travellers are not taking any chances.

Donning masks and observing safety precautions have become a routine for some families.

One person said: "I am not worried about H1N1, because we can protect ourselves."

Another added: "I wear a mask and take a bottle of hand sanitiser with me ."

So masks or no masks, Malaysians are travelling again. In fact, some argue that this is the best time to travel when traffic is low and you get real bargains at unbeatable prices.

Source : Channel News Asia
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