Impact on tourism in Malaysia post MH370
Duty free shopping, a focused government to provide the tourists the best value of their money, the heart throbbing landscape of the country and the existence of the best possible hotels and transportation system to give maximum comfort to the tourists, have made Malaysia one of the finest and most desirable destinations of the tourists from all over the world. In fact, during the past few years, the tourism sector remains the sixth largest contributor to the national income of the island country, and the government is putting its continuous effort to make it more attractive as the tourist spot. In 2012 and 2013, the country registered a sale of 6 Billion USD and 6.3 billion USD respectively to the tourists, came to the country in those years.
This rosy picture and the investment drive of the Malaysian government to leverage the tourism opportunity of the country to increase its foreign exchange kitty, has suffered a significant setback from the pathetic incidence of disappearance and thereafter the destruction of the airliner MH370. The disappearance of the cursed flight and the series of incidences, following the disappearance, along with the frantic but useless search of the flight, has already proved to be one of the biggest blunders, the country has ever faced and has already proved to affect the tourism drive of the country with severe adversity. It was March 8, 2014 when the flight MH370 departed from Kuala Lumpur with altogether 239 passengers on board, most of them being Chinese nationals. By 1.20 PM the flight disappeared and was never back again on the radars. The entire flight just disappeared from the global map and even after a frantic search by 26 nations; the disappearance of MH370 is still a mystery which is yet to be solved. It is not only the disappearance and the loss of the flight MH370 along with its passengers from various nations that has damaged the reputation of Malaysian tourism. The situation has been aggravated by the fact that many countries have already started to believe that the Malaysian government has failed miserably in its disaster management and in controlling the whole affairs with utmost professionalism and accuracy.
The most vocal amongst the criticisers of the Malaysian government was China, as most of the passengers were the Chinese citizens in that cursed airliner. Well, there are reasons for such criticisms that are being faced by the Malaysian government. The fact that the incidence has made the Malaysian disaster management system naked before the whole of the world, was aggravated by the confusing information from the Malaysian authority after the incidence took place. Another important point is that the dismal performance of the air defence system of Malaysia, in locating the aircraft which changed its designated route just before its disappearance. The fact that once MH370 changed the route, the Malaysian military establishments failed to find the plane in its radar, a failure, which could have far reaching effect because of the growing terrorists activities all over the world and in every possible region of it.
All these incidences have impacted the Malaysian tourism industry so brutally that the economists and the experts are telling that, even after putting best effort on the part of the Government, it will take probably years to re-establish the confidence of the tourists from all over the world. The result of the disappearance and the series of unwanted incidences that followed the mishap were immediately visible.
With 1.79 millions of Chinese tourists visiting the nation since 2013, China as a country remained one of the most significant contributor to the development of the tourism industry of Malaysia. But after the disappearance of the flight MH370, this euphoria amongst the Chinese to choose the island as the most wanted destination, has apparently been vanished and the result has been proved to be disastrous for the Malaysian Tourism industry. Not only Chinese people, a god part of the tourism earnings was also dependent on the visitors from Australia, and the Australians are seemed to be in no mood to continue their holiday drive towards the island state after the disappearance of the flight and after the series of incidences and the mismanagement of the Malaysian Government following the disappearance.
The statistics tells that after March 2014, more than 200 booking sites used to book the hotels in Malaysia have already revealed the fact that they are realising the effect of the disaster significantly so far as the booking of the hotels are concerned. When the country got the opportunity to welcome nearly half a million of Australian tourists in 2013, the number of the tourists have abruptly dropped to three fourth of that 2013 figure. But the most aggressive cancellations were from the Chinese. More that 30% of the cancellations have already been confirmed from the Chinese tourists according to the sources, having access to such data. All these are going to cost the country for more that 40 million USD alone in the rest of the 2014, or may be much more.
However, the Malaysian government is trying hard to restore the confidence of the tourists, the China-Malaysia relationship being at the central point of these efforts. Malaysia has a long-term strategic partnership with China and the bilateral trade in between the two countries have recently been around 100 billion USD. Naturally the economic prosperity and the growth of the national economy of Malaysia is significantly dependent upon the relationship with Beijing and the flow of tourists from China. In fact tourism is so important for the economic development of the country, that if the government of Malaysia fails to restore the confidence of the rest of the world and fails to assure the tourists from all over the world, that the MH370 is a distant saga never to be repeated in the Malaysian sky, the tourism industry and consequently the development drive of the island country will be in big trouble.