MALAYSIAN tourism officials have launched holiday packages aimed at residents of southern Thailand.
The launch of the programme, “Southern Thai Packages to Malaysia”, was held by Tourism Malaysia at the Centara Hotel in Hat Yai.
The initiative seeks to boost the number of cross-border travellers from the southern provinces.
More than 80 people, including travel agents and members of the media from southern Thailand, attended the event.
Railway packages are combined with several attractions and activities including theme parks, and city and night tours.
This programme also aims to strengthen cooperation between Malaysia and Thailand, as well as to commemorate the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries this year.
Malaysian Minister of Tourism and Culture Mohamed Nazri bin Abdul Aziz welcomed guests at the launch event.
In 2016, 26.7 million tourist arrivals to Malaysia were registered, RM 82.1 billion in receipts. Malaysia welcomed 1.78 million Thai tourists, an increase of 32.7 per cent compared to the previous year with RM 3.5 billion in spending. Thailand was ranked fourth in the top 10 of tourist-generating markets. At the same time, in 2016, Malaysia was ranked number two in term of tourist arrivals to Thailand, at 3.5 million, an increase of 3.36 per cent compared to 2015.
This year, the target is set for 1.8 million tourist arrivals from Thailand. The theme “Malaysia Truly Asia” will continue to be used to promote Malaysia as a preferred holiday destination. From January to May, Malaysia received about 813,000 Thai tourists – an increase of 9.8 per cent.
Overall, Malaysia is believed to be an achievable target because Thais are more adventurous in their holiday plans and Malaysia is just across the border. Packages from as low as Bt4,200 are offered by agents in south Thailand to various destinations in Malaysia such as Genting Highlands, Cameron Highlands, Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Langkawi and Ipoh.
Various market segments such as family travel, leisure-seekers, religious travel and shopping lovers, are all potential areas. Malaysia has all these attributes to meet the demands of the Thais tourists.
These packages offer Thai tourists more options to travel by road, rail, sea, or air. This initiative will definitely help boost arrivals from Thailand to Malaysia.
In order to enhance the “Southern Thai Packages to Malaysia”, the tourism agency has collaborated with Malayan Railways Limited to promote rail packages as another alternative for Thai tourists, especially those from Southern Thailand.
Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad is offering daily departures from Padang Besar to Kuala Lumpur Central with a total of 2,184 seats per day. Five travel agents from Southern Thailand - Sunny Tours, Happy Time 1009 Group, KST Travel, Hatyai Four Seasons Travel, and Sahachai Travel & Service – are working with Tourism Malaysia to promote this package.
Meanwhile, Tourism Malaysia is also promoting an upcoming event in Malaysia, the Kuala Lumpur International Craft Festival 2017. It will be held at Putrajaya Square from November 23 to 26. The event will present a market of handmade items from around the world, under the theme “Crafts Unite People”. KLICF 2017 will feature cultural performances, craft demonstrations, and craft exhibitions, where Malaysian and foreign artists, as well as online entrepreneurs, will be showcasing their crafts from all over the world.
Moreover, the Malaysian government is working towards extending the operation hours of the immigration checkpoint at Bukit Kayu Hitam. It is targeting a 24-hour operation at the checkpoint will be effective on January 1, 2019. This development will be another positive step towards welcoming more Thai tourists via road travel. As Malaysia and Thailand shared eight border land-crossing points, this will hopefully be a good start to further facilitate and streamline cross-border travel between two countries.
It is hoped that all these efforts will encourage trade partners and media to continue promoting Malaysia as a preferred holiday destination for Thai tourists.