Spotlight on Malaysia - Edition 3
22 March 2022
Karen Saw is Tourism Australia’s Business Development Manager in Malaysia. Karen is responsible for developing and growing the commercial partnerships and distribution network in Malaysia. She boasts some of the best performing partnerships with airlines, key distribution partners and others in the TA network.
It has been six months since your last update. What recent changes are impacting life in Malaysia now?
This month, the Malaysian Government announced that the international border for fully vaccinated travellers will open on 1 April 2022. Travellers will need to undertake a pre-departure PCR test before re-entering Malaysia and a supervised Antigen test within 24 hours of arrival into the country.
Malaysia has kept its economy open despite the Omicron wave seeing daily caseloads hitting record highs. Now, with approximately 80 per cent of Malaysians fully vaccinated and 64 per cent having received a booster dose, the country is gradually easing its COVID-19 restrictions. Close contacts with no symptoms are no longer required to quarantine, unvaccinated individuals are permitted to cross state lines, and limits on the opening hours and capacity of commercial and restaurant premises are being lifted. Masks are still mandatory during the transition phase.
Can you share insights into your plans to support recovery from the Malaysian market?
As part of Tourism Australia’s reopening campaign, we are featuring ‘Welcome back’ messaging across digital channels to generate travel demand for Australia under the ‘Australia. Yours to Explore’ campaign.
Our messaging has been supported with conversion activities by distribution and airline partners as they scale up their operational capacity. This is in line with our primary goals to restore aviation connectivity and distribution recovery. Malaysia has one of the highest ‘holiday’ as purpose of visit arrivals and with significant pent-up demand we are seeing strong interest in Australia as freedom of movement returns.
Tourism Australia has developed a broad partner network in Malaysia with airlines including Malaysia Airlines and Singapore Airlines, and five Key Distribution Partners including Apple Vacations, Corporate Information Travel, Holiday Tours & Travel, Forever Travel & Sedunia Travel, all launching conversion campaigns as soon as the pending Malaysia reopening was announced. We are also extending our partnerships currently to online travel agencies and financial institutions.
In April we will launch the Virtual Travel Fair (VTF) across all four South and South East Asia markets. The Virtual Travel Fair is an online travel fair partnership with airlines, hotel chains, key distribution partners and banks to offer exclusive airfares and/or packages to Australia. The campaign is aimed at building demand, driving conversion, and expediting recovery of the travel ecosystem.
In the Business Events space, we recently held a hybrid Business Events Asia Showcase 2022 to connect with Business Events agents with Australian sellers. A total of 15 buyers attended, and a significant number of leads were identified. Agent and seller feedback was very positive regarding the future business for Australia and ability to reconnect.
How is the Malaysian travel trade faring?
The majority of local travel industry are slowly building back their resources as more destinations welcome back Malaysian travellers.
The Aussie Specialist Program has been critical to support strong conversion as we train agents and develop their capability through sales and destination training. Tourism Australia, State and Territory Organisations and the Department of Home Affairs coordinated a range of Aussie Specialist Program webinars in March which were attended by over 1,200 Aussie Specialists. The webinars updated agents on entry requirements for Australia and each state and territory and highlighted new products to appeal to their customers.
Business Events agents are also actively pitching for new business and corporate planning for 2022 travel.
We continue to maintain strong relationships with our partners in Malaysia and welcome the opportunity to support Australian industry to access the market. Please contact us, should you have any questions.
Are you seeing evidence of any emerging consumer travel trends that are relevant for travel to Australia?
Consumer confidence is growing, with research showing 70 to 80 per cent of vaccinated consumers are eager to travel* and travel demand has significantly increased with people eager to go on holiday after almost two years of lockdowns.
Australia is one of the closest and most familiar destinations for Malaysians due to its proximity and direct accessibility. With the announcement of the border reopening and easing of travel restrictions, we are already seeing a strong return of enquiries for Australia. Malaysian consumers are seeking unique experiences and rewarding themselves after two years of being unable to travel.
*Source: Tourism Australia’s Consumer Demand Project, July 2021.
And personally, what is on your wish list of experiences when you get the chance to return to Australia?
I am longing to visit Australia for a good coffee, fresh produce and seafood and to experience Australia’s beautiful scenery and amazing beaches. I can’t wait to be back!
I have a long wish list so here’s a few of my top priorities:
- Road trips with my family
- Pamper my taste buds with Australia’s fresh produce, seafood and gourmet eats with the Seafood Seduction Tour on Bruny Island, stroll Melbourne’s laneways for the best coffee and pastries, dine at Sydney’s world-class restaurants, truffle hunting followed by a great meal in Canberra
- Indulge at one of Australia’s luxury lodges, in particular Longitude 131
- Sleep under the Milky Way and on the Great Barrier Reef
- Have a wildlife encounter on Kangaroo Island and meet a quokka on Rottnest Island
- Experience the snow at Snowy Mountains or Mt Buller