Strengthening ringgit last year saw more Malaysians travelling abroad

Looi Sue-Chern

THE strengthening ringgit against the US dollar led to a significant increase in the number of Malaysians travelling abroad last year, online accommodation site said.

In a statement on its latest Hotel Price Index (HPI) released today, said Malaysians found good value for their money overseas due to the currency’s strong performance, despite global hotel prices rising in 2017.

Globally, the HPI recorded a two-point percentage rise in accommodation prices, moving the global Index to 116 – the closest it has been to 2007’s peak of 118. Last year’s uptrend in hotel prices also signified the first year-on-year growth since 2013.

Jessica Chuang, brand regional director for Greater China, Southeast Asia and India, said for Malaysians, Thai capital Bangkok has remained the most popular regional destination, with other regional cities like Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City catching up.

Singapore and Hong Kong retained their second and third spots in the top 10 outbound cities for Malaysian travellers in 2017, while Taipei came up to fourth from fifth in 2016.

Ho Chi Minh City, with its great budget shopping options, jumped from 10th to fifth. Another Vietnamese city, Hanoi, also improved its position to 19th. said more than 480,000 Malaysians visited Vietnam last year, an 18%  increase from 2016. 

There was also a marked increase in interest for destinations in Japan and Europe, Chuang said.

For the larger Asia-Pacific (APAC) region, Tokyo was the top destination for Malaysians last year, with Bangkok at number two.

“Last year, saw the Japanese yen devaluing against major currencies. Malaysian visitors found themselves paying considerably less in 2017 for popular destinations such as Tokyo and Osaka,” she said.

The average hotel prices paid by Malaysians in Tokyo, Osaka and Sapporo last year were RM572, RM538 and RM455 respectively. The prices in Tokyo and Osaka decreased by 6% and 14% year-on-year compared to 2016. Only in Sapporo did prices go up, to 3%. also recorded more accommodation bookings by Malaysian travellers across Europe, marking a revival in Malaysian travellers’ appetite to explore long-haul destinations in 2017, following a slump recorded in the previous HPI report.

Cities like London, Paris, Istanbul, Amsterdam and Rome were the top European destinations for Malaysian last year. London, Paris, Istanbul and Rome improved their rankings last year from 2015.

“London, with the iconic Oxford Street and an enduring reputation as the favourite haunt for Malaysian celebrities and socialites, remains the most popular European destination for Malaysian travellers. 

“Istanbul, renowned for its grand mosques, colourful bazaars and historical Ottoman and Byzantine monuments, jumped 22 spots last year, signifying its growing popularity amongst Malaysian travellers. 

“Last year also saw the ringgit strengthen 16% against the Turkish Lira, making Turkish destinations relatively more affordable for Malaysian travellers,” the accommodation site’s report found.

Meanwhile, Kuala Lumpur retained its position as the 17th most popular destination for APAC travellers last year. It is Southeast Asia’s fourth most popular destination, after Bangkok, Singapore and Bali.

As for the average hotel prices paid in major Southeast Asian cities in 2017, Singapore hotels fetched the highest average price of US$156 (RM603) – a 5% increase from 2016.

Bangkok was second at US$87 or RM336 (6% increase), followed by Jakarta at US$86 or RM332 (1% increase), Ho Chi Minh City at US$79 or RM305 (3% increase), and Kuala Lumpur at US$74 or RM286 (5% increase).

“While the average hotel prices increased 5% in Kuala Lumpur last year, the city still offers exceptional value for travellers as a world-class destination with spectacular sights and amazing shopping and entertainment options,” Chuang said. – March 29, 2018.

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