Culture International Travel

Chinese tourist numbers in Malaysia dropped and it affected… durian sellers?!

When we talk about Chinese tourists, you may think of their superweird behaviour like how they actually damaged China’s rare pink grass field by taking selfies recently. BUT we’re not gonna talk about that today.

Recently, something very weird happened with the news about Chinese tourists in Malaysia. Some news sources reported how the numbers of Chinese tourists that visited Malaysia reduced. Other news outlets reported how the numbers increased.

And although Najib was blamed for most of the things, he wasn’t blamed for this one. However, he blamed it on the current gomen. Just take a look at the screengrab below:

What is going on?! Screengrab from Google search

What is going on?! Screengrab from Google search

As ugaiz can see, these headlines may have contradicted each other, hence confusing everyday readers la. So, we decided to find out what is actually happening.

Fewer Chinese tourists visited Malaysia because they traveled within China?!

Unfortunately, the real, actual news is fewer Chinese tourists visited Malaysia during their paid national holiday. Eh, China people get paid to go for holidays??

The people of China (and Japan, apparently) have this thing called the Golden Week or China’s 7-day national holiday which was first implemented in 2000. And, yes, they get THREE days of paid holidays besides the surrounding weekends rearranged in such a way that workers in China will always get seven days holiday. Okay… but how does this information resonate with this story?

OMG, this may look like the whole population of Klang Valley. Image from NextShark

OMG, human traffic jam. Image from NextShark

The number of Chinese tourists actually dropped by 30-35% from last year. In 2017, we received about 180,000 Chinese tourists during this period alone! So, if ugaiz do the math, the number of Chinese tourists who came this year may be around 117,000.

Yikes, this may not be good since Malaysia was expecting to receive a large amount of Chinese tourists in the second half of the year due to the Golden Week! In addition, Malaysia aims to achieve the target of 33.1 million tourist arrivals this year. Aiyo, how did this happen?

Tun Mahathir claimed that this may have happened because Chinese tourists decided to travel within their own country. Something like Cuti-Cuti Malaysia China la.

The Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister supported this statement by adding how the new policy introduced by China to encourage its citizens to travel domestically may have caused the drop in Chinese tourists.

“It is not only Malaysia but the whole world will be seeing Chinese tourists numbers going down a bit but it is only for one week,” – Mohammaddin told The Sun Daily.

However, we found out that there were reports stating that the number of outbound Chinese tourists increased this year during this holiday. So which is the truth?

As we searched deeper, we found out that…


Thailand is the most visited country by Chinese tourists despite a shipwreck accident

According to a research conducted by Ctrip, many Chinese tourists visited Thailand… even after an accident that happened in July. Apparently, a ship wrecked in Phuket, Thailand which cost 41 lives including at least 28 Chinese tourists. Although the number of Chinese tourists dropped after the accident, they seem to favour Thailand more than our country.

It didn’t really take a miracle for this to happen nor is it shocking. Thailand has been the top destination for Chinese tourists during this period since last year. But the Thai gomen managed to woo these tourists back even after the accident because of their effort to ensure the safety of tourists by joining forces with the Navy.

And that’s not the only factor that attracted these tourists to visit Thailand. Ctrip also revealed that Thailand’s effort to set up special access routes to facilitate Chinese tourists visiting Thailand. Chinese tourists were able to enter Thailand through five international airports in Bangkok itself! Wadaheckk.

Wah, five entries! Image from Wikipedia

More entries means more tourists! Image from Wikipedia

Compare that to Malaysia which still lacks point-to-point flight connectivity to tourism resorts and flight cancellations, among others.

Besides that, the Thailand gomen planned to grant Chinese tourists with double-entry or multiple visa which Chinese tourists find very convenient. Eh, isn’t that similar to what we have?

Although previous gomen implemented an online visa (e-visa) for Chinese tourists, these tourists don’t really think the visas were convenient to them as compared to the ones Thailand gomen implemented. There are also claims stating that Thailand’s visa policy is more convenient than Malaysia’s as tourists can just enter Thailand the next day if they want to (aka easier access into the country la).

6 badass Malaysian documentaries from Al Jazeera's 101 East

Tun M also added how Malaysia’s visa issuance process may need some improvements especially in terms of speed.

The drop in the number of Chinese tourists may have been caused by the current gomen’s decision to put off the waiver of visa for Chinese tourists. Apparently, the gomen is super confident that the number of Chinese tourists visiting Malaysia will increase by 10 million but… it didn’t turn out that way.

OOOPSSSS! Image from KiniTV's YouTube

OOOPSSSS! Image from KiniTV’s YouTube

Another research found out that Chinese tourists preferred Thailand as a traveling destination thanks to its relatively low cost, culture, food and Thai massage.

We get how some of ugaiz may think that this may not affect Malaysians at all but let’s just put it this way:


Our Musang King durian seller rugi cos fewer Chinese tourists visited here

At least, based on Najib. He mentioned that the drop in the number of Chinese tourists would affect… Musang King durian sellers out of all the sellers out there. As it turns out, Chinese tourists loveeeee our durians so much, President Xi Jinping thought our durians are ‘tasty and extraordinary’.

As a matter of fact, travel agencies actually include durian tour in their packages!

Mmm... yums! Image from The Star

Mmm… yums! Image from The Star

Having said that, the tourism industry, which is the third biggest industry in Malaysia btw, would also be affected by this drop. Najib mentioned that the tourism industry created about 1.73 million jobs.

Aside from durian sellers and tourism industry, retailers are also complaining about how their industry are affected by this. The Malaysia Retail Chain Association (MRCA) president Datuk Seri Garry Chua said that Chinese tourists account for 25% of the world’s tourists, so they may have more purchasing power la. That means, if fewer Chinese tourists visit Malaysia, there’s a chance that retailer’s earning will drop. OMG, so many industries are affected by this drop! Malaysia GG lor like this.

Oi, don’t gancheong yet. Weirdly enough, Alipay found out that Malaysia is actually the 8th most visited country by Chinese tourists during this period. It was also reported that Malaysia ranked ahead of other ang moh countries and that Chinese tourists spend quite a lot here. And that is thanks to the growing implementation of Alipay in Malaysia lor (which is about 90%).

Just scan and go! Image from Vulcan Post

Just scan and go! Image from Vulcan Post

Alipay stated that Chinese tourists actually spent about RM817 per head during this period which is actually an increasing amount. Although fewer Chinese tourists visited Malaysia, they actually spent more here compared to Singapore and Thailand!

So… what will happen now?


Tun M is quite sure that more Chinese tourists will visit Malaysia next year

As we mentioned in the introduction, Najib actually blamed this on the new gomen. He said Chinese tourists dowan to come here because of those political attacks made against their gomen. Ala, all those projects cancelled by the current gomen la.

However, unlike the claims made by our beloved Najib, it’s not like our gomen is doing nothing to attract these tourists. Prior to the Golden Week, the gomen actually implemented several initiatives to attract these tourists like hiring and placing local officers who speak Mandarin at our international airports and publishing a special guidebook in Mandarin for Chinese tourists. Sadly, these initiatives may not have seem to work much since the number of Chinese tourists dropped.

Even so, Malaysian tourism believes that the bilateral relationship between China and Malaysia can be strengthened through tourism especially when both countries worked together in wooing Chinese tourists.

Mandarin speaking KLIA staff and guidebook for Chinese tourists in Malaysia. Images from World of Buzz and China Daily

Mandarin speaking KLIA staff and guidebook for Chinese tourists in Malaysia. Images from World of Buzz and China Daily

After Malaysia sees a drop in these tourists, MATTA director, Datuk Tan Kok Liang suggested that both Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture and the private sector may have to focus their effort to cater to changing trends and preferences of Chinese tourists in order to attract these tourists back to Malaysia.

Tun M also added that the gomen will reduce visa fee and improve on visa application services for Chinese tourists.

He is also pretty confident that the number of Chinese tourists visiting Malaysia will increase. Tun M may not be wrong since there were historical evidence that that happened.

In 2014, Chinese tourists didn’t wanna come to Malaysia due to the MH370 tragedy. Malaysia actually saw a rise in the number of Chinese tourists in 2015 aside from an unexpected rise in 2016 which is by 26.7%. Malaysia recorded the highest number of Chinese tourists in 2016 btw. Check out the graph here if ugaiz don’t believe us.

Having said that, Malaysia may not have much to worry about.

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