IRAN registered the highest growth for Malaysia last year, increasing by 60.9 per cent to reach 101,664 visitors.
Agents specialising in this market, however, said Malaysia was in danger of losing its lustre due to unhealthy practices such as rate-dumping to grab market share and Singapore's growing appeal through aggressive promotional efforts.
Grace Holidays general manager Godwin Miranda said: "A standard package of seven nights in Malaysia is sold US$15 or more below cost. Agents make up the difference by pushing optionals and shopping tours. Services are compromised by skimping on trained tour guides, interpreters and hotel facilities."
Mohammad Kiani, general manager of Sewac Travel & Tours, added that the number of Iranians going on Kuala Lumpur-Penang packages had dropped by at least 80 per cent since 2007 and the market was now opting for Kuala Lumpur-Singapore packages instead.
Iran overtook the United Arab Emirates (UAE) last year to become Malaysia's second largest Middle East market, after Saudi Arabia. UAE arrivals fell by 36.8 per cent in 2009 to a little over 22,000, compared to 34,994 in 2008.
Source : TTG
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