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China tourists steering clear of Malaysia

IN AGONY: Emotions ran high during a protest in front of the Malaysian Embassy in Beijing yesterday, with relatives of Chinese passengers aboard Flight MH370 denouncing the Malaysian government and its national carrier as "executioners". PHOTO: REUTERS


    Mar 26, 2014

    China tourists steering clear of Malaysia


    THE controversy surrounding missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 has prompted many Chinese tourists, who once saw Malaysia as an attractive holiday destination, to look elsewhere, travel agents said yesterday.

    Eleven Chinese travel agents said that bookings between China and Malaysia had dropped severely, and that many people have cancelled their trips, amid anger over the perceived lack of information provided by the Malaysian government to families of the missing passengers.

    "We used to have 30 to 40 customers a month for group tours to Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand. Now, there is no one asking about this route or booking," said a travel agent surnamed Chen.

    "Tourists don't even consider going there. Many also have a negative impression of the country now," said Mr Chen of Comfort Travel in the southern city of Guangzhou.

    In Beijing, angry relatives of Chinese passengers aboard the missing plane protested yesterday outside the Malaysian Embassy, demanding an explanation from the airline and accusing the government in Kuala Lumpur of "delays and deception".

    Flight MH370, with 239 people on board, vanished from civilian radar screens less than an hour after take-off on March 8 on a routine flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Most of the passengers were Chinese.

    "The Malaysian government deliberately delayed publicising real information about the flight. We should punish this completely irresponsible attitude and boycott Malaysian tourism," said a user of Sina Weibo.

    The slowdown in Chinese travel could hurt Malaysia's goal of boosting tourism, though the impact on the economy may be limited. Chinese tourist arrivals account for about 12 per cent of Malaysia's total tourists and 0.4 per cent of the country's gross domestic product, Bank of America Merrill Lynch said in a note.