A large number of Saudis are, according to the Kingdom’s travel and air industry, heading to Malaysia for their holidays and steering clear of turmoil-hit Egypt.
The Malaysian Consulate in Jeddah has confirmed an increase in Saudi visitors to the country. “There has been a 12.6 percent increase since 2009. A large number of Saudis traveled to Malaysia during the short break this year because of cheap airline tickets available online,” he added.
Malaysian Airlines estimated the number of passengers traveling from Jeddah and Riyadh to Malaysia to be around 1,500 during the first 10 days of February.
According to an official spokesman for Malaysian Airlines in Jeddah, a growing number of people from the Kingdom are opting to travel to Malaysia rather than Egypt and Lebanon. Malaysia was one of the top sought-after holiday destinations this season, he said, adding that “cost is also a factor.”
Malaysia is the preferred choice among many Saudis because of its relaxed and cultured Muslim background. “It has the best cultural mix of Islam and modernism,” said Marwa Hussein, a frequent traveler to Malaysia. “We get halal food everywhere and there is a lot to do for families. The beaches, parks and urban infrastructure make it a top destination for tourists.”
Many expatriates are also worried about traveling to Egypt. “I would not risk going to Egypt because of the political instability. Safety comes first,” said Lujain Ahmed, a Lebanese national who canceled a recent trip to the country.
Asked when she will travel to Egypt, she said, “Not anytime soon or in the next three months. Even Lebanon is not safe right now. We prefer to travel abroad for our short break. Most of our friends suggest Malaysia or Dubai, which is similar to the Kingdom and so you're at home away from home but with a lot more to do.”
Another visitor to Malaysia said the country is “progressive” in nature. He added that people find a wide variety of activities available in Malaysia attractive and that many people want to get away from the Gulf to experience a change of atmosphere. “You feel like you are in the Gulf because of the Islamic atmosphere but you know you have opportunities to discover life out of the Gulf, which is a great change,” he added.
“Tourist traffic to Egypt may only pick up after three months when things return to normal. The dialogue, decisions and implementation of the political verdict directly influences travel,” said a travel agent in Jeddah.
Travel agencies say people feel attracted to Malaysia because of the weather, the open-minded environment and wide choice of things to do. “Most Saudis see Malaysia as modern yet traditional,” he added.
Saudis traveling from the Kingdom to Malaysia can acquire visas on their arrival.
Source : ArabNews
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