Destination desolation

Updated: 2014-10-04 07:48

By Erik Nilsson(China Daily)

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Destination desolation

Angkor Wat in Cambodia is the largest religious monument in the world. CHINA DAILY

"Gambling was a big draw."

King says Southeast Asian countries have "adopted separate approaches" to deal with the drop.

"Singapore has presented itself in China as a single standalone destination as a means of distinguishing itself from the trouble occurring in neighboring Malaysia," he says.

Chinese tourism to Malaysia dropped 9 percent to 850,877 between January and June compared with the same period of 2013, following years of growth, Tourism Malaysia's general director Dato' Mirza Mohammad Taiyab says.

He believes the dip to be temporary.

Malaysia has responded by studying Chinese travel preferences according to regions and is tailoring marketing according to specific locations, he explains. It's also staging social media campaigns focused on safety; introducing new products and packages; developing charter flights; and marketing more toward second- and third-tier cities.

"Malaysia's priority is to regain the goodwill and friendship of the Chinese people," Taiyab says.

"We are confident that the tourist flow from China will return to normal soon."

King says Thailand has been "particularly active" in courting Chinese tourists.

"(It's) waiving visa fees; launching special retail offers; partnering with Chinese travel agents to develop appealing packages; lessening import duties on luxuries; and stimulating flights to airports away from Bangkok.

Indonesia has started a Chinese-language website. "Indonesia has emerged as the region's main beneficiary of neighboring countries' decline.

Outbound tourism to the country grew 22 percent in the first half of the year, King says.