Travel TrendsThere's a massive change in Malaysians' preferences in the post-pandemic climate, as many travel agents discover.

Where are Malaysians travelling to in 2022?

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Despite the weakened ringgit, Malaysians are on a travel frenzy, heading for countries such as Turkey and the Balkans.
Despite the weakened ringgit, Malaysians are on a travel frenzy, heading for countries such as Turkey and the Balkans. Photo Credit: Gettyimages/Seqoya

Whether they are rebooking cancelled trips from earlier, fulfilling their bucket lists, or feeding their pent-up travel desire after almost two years of closed borders, Malaysians are eagerly booking their next vacation.

Travel agents say they have seen dramatic spikes in demand in the past few months as more countries begin to lift travel pandemic bans.

“The weakened ringgit does not seem to affect their travels because savings from two years of lockdown have allowed them to be a bit more luxuriant with their overseas trips,” says Nursyuhada Abd Aziz of Pens Leisure and Services.

As borders reopen, agents note that Covid-19 concerns still dictate travel patterns.

“The pandemic has had a profound effect on how Malaysians travel,” says Ami Nur Shafiq, outbound manager of Via Vacation and Travel. “The destinations that are most in demand are those countries that are easiest to visit that drop entry restrictions altogether, including no quarantine time.

Bookings for Ami’s company are up by 80% so far this year, albeit from a low baseline, with Turkey and the Balkans heading the list of popular destinations with Malaysians.

Malaysian tastes and preferences have also changed post-pandemic.

“Shopping used to be the singular attraction, but we’ve seen more Malaysians opting for nature and cultural sightseeing in Turkey and the Balkans.”

Another post-pandemic plus point: Travel companies are hearing from travellers who have never booked through an agent before.

With multi-country itineraries such as the Balkans, agents provide ease of travel and expertise as they navigate the region’s varied cultural mix. In addition, travel companies also provide peace of mind.

Nursyuhada Abd Aziz has observed that more travellers are booking trips through agents.
Nursyuhada Abd Aziz has observed that more travellers are booking trips through agents.

“People do not want the headache associated with uncertainty travelling in these times,” says Nursyuhada.

As travel bounces back, the industry remains challenged with limited flights and worker shortages that spell delay for restaurant reservations or even daily housekeeping that may affect vacations.

Muhammad Fuad Abdul Rahman's client favour Bali for beach vacations.
Muhammad Fuad Abdul Rahman's client favour Bali for beach vacations.

Apart from nature and cultural sightseeing, consumers are also snapping up beach vacations, as evidenced by the popularity of Bali and the Maldives tours at Aifar Tours & Vacations. Managing Director Muhammad Fuad Abdul Rahman says Bali remains a firm favourite as a quick getaway among his clients due to the short flight time.

The Maldives, which was among the first few countries to open borders to international tourists without quarantine requirements, appeals to travellers seeking normalcy with its no-mask mandate.

Destinations such as the Maldives are also benefiting from a more diversified clientele. Where the Maldives were once popular with honeymooners or couples, “what we’ve seen now is families vacationing in the Maldives together,” comments Nursyuhada.

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