ID :
Fri, 09/05/2008 - 13:32
Auther :


By Manik Mehta
FRANKFURT, Sept 5 (Bernama) -- Although Malaysia is increasingly becoming a popular destination among German tourists, the strong growth in traffic to Malaysia could be seriously impaired with long-term implications for tourism if adequate air connections are not available from Germany to Malaysia.

This view widespread among German tour operators, who offer Malaysia as a destination, is also shared by the Frankfurt-based director of the Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board (Tourism Malaysia), Syed Yahya Syed Othman, who took over the directorship in Frankfurt only four months ago after serving at the Tourism Malaysia headquarters in Kuala Lumpur.

Prior to his home posting, he was director of Tourism Malaysia office in Seoul.

"Traffic from Germany to Malaysia posted a 35 percent growth during the first six months of the current year over the year earlier," he told Bernama.

Traffic to Malaysia from other German-speaking countries such as
Switzerland and Austria has also increased by 17 and 3 per cent,

However, Malaysia, already facing a paucity of direct flights to and from
Western Europe, is now feeling the pressure as tourists, unable to get good
flight connections, are opting for Thailand and Bali instead.

"The frequency of air connections between Germany and Malaysia has gone
down," he said.

Malaysian Airlines (MAS) has slashed its weekly flights to Frankfurt from
five to four effective September, creating traffic bottlenecks just as the
number of German tourists in Malaysia has steadily surged.

German tour operators, who offer Malaysia as a destination, are not happy
with what they perceive as a "pennywise-pound-foolish" tactic.

"MAS will not only lose its market share in Germany and other countries but
its move will also adversely affect traffic to Malaysia in the long run.

"Other destinations, particularly Thailand and the Indonesian island of
Bali, offer better accessibility and air connections and will naturally stand
to gain at Malaysia's expense if MAS reduces its flight frequency," says one
Frankfurt-based operator.

Singapore Airlines is already scoring points from Frankfurt which is well
patronised by German customers. Thai Airways and even the low-key Royal Brunei
Airlines are also expected to benefit from MAS' flight reduction as they take
passengers to their home airport base and then offer connections to

"We are now aggressively working with other airlines to push traffic from
Germany to Malaysia via a third country though I personally feel it is a pity
that our national carrier should lose business, particularly at a time when
there is an impressive surge in tourism not only from Germany but other
neighbouring countries as well," Syed Yahya admitted.

He is coordinating not only with Singapore Airlines but also with Cathay
Pacific, Kuwait Airways, Gulf Air, Emirates and Korean Airlines to work out
package deals for tourists interested to visit Malaysia.

"We participated in a joint tactical campaign with Singapore Airlines
recently," he said.

Traffic has also risen from the Netherlands (+50%) and Belgium (+83%)
in the first six months of the year over the corresponding period last

In absolute terms, Malaysia received 52,238 arrivals from Germany, 12,714
from Switzerland, 7,087 from Austria, 39,639 from the Netherlands and 7,447 from
Belgium in the first half of this year.

Syed Yahya said Germans are fascinated by the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala
Lumpur and are deeply impressed by the hospitality and friendliness of

"Germans are pleasantly surprised to find Kuala Lumpur a very modern and
sophisticated city with sprawling shopping malls, culture and entertainment," he

Sabah and Sarawak, with their rainforest and pristine sandy beaches, are a
big draw for German tourists.

But Syed Yahya says he is also very keen to foray into the lucrative MICE
(Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions) market, given the fact that
Malaysia has a "very modern and sophisticated infrastructure, combined with
entertainment and tourist attractions".

The forthcoming ITB Asia 2008, the Asian version of the world's biggest
tourism fair called "International Tourism Bourse of Berlin", is being organised
by the Berlin trade fair company "Messe Berlin" for the first time in Singapore
in October.

"The ITB Asia will be a very interesting venue for attracting visitors to
Malaysia which is easily accessible from Singapore. We can offer visitors to
Singapore a package for Malaysia as part of a larger tour programme of the

"Of course, we are focusing on leisure tourism but the incentive market
also holds out the promise of good business. There are many big companies in
Germany that will be interested in sending their delegates to Malaysia," he