Notwithstanding the high-pitched publicity in the German media about the plight of German and other Western hostages kidnapped from the Malaysian diving resort of Sipadan and held by Filipino rebels at Jolo Island, tourism traffic from Germany to Malaysia actually posted an impressive 70 percent growth in the first six months of this year.
There were 51,227 arrivals, up from 29,591 arrivals in the same period last year, said M.D. Razali, the director of the Frankfurt-based Malaysian Tourism Promotion Board.
Describing the surge in German tourist arrivals in Malaysia as a “dramatic increase”, Razali was upbeat about the future growth in tourist traffic from Germany.
According to Razali, the definition of a tourist is “anyone visiting Malaysia for a period of at least 24 hours and staying overnight in the country”.
Razali said that this “unprecedented increase” in tourist arrivals is a reflection of a “sense of awakening” among Germans about Malaysia as an ideal destination for both leisure and business travellers, and is characterised by a strong confidence and interest in Malaysia among members of the travel trade and the consumers alike.
Admitting that the cumulative figure of German arrivals was quite small, Razali said: “We are very confident that as a potential destination, there is unlimited opportunity for further growth.The launch of the campaign ‘Malaysia – Truly Asia’ is expected to further stimulate interest among prospective German travellers to visit Malaysia.”
Asian tourism promotion offices in Frankfurt aggressively court German tourists who have in the past ruled supreme as “world champions” in foreign tourism spending.
Although they have been overtaken by Americans, German tourists still spend a lot of money on foreign travel and tourism.
According Tourism Malaysia, the 43,341 German tourists who visited Malaysia last year spent an average of RM215.2 per day for an average length of stay of 9.6 days. However, they spent an average per capita of RM2,073.8 per trip.
German tourists visiting Malaysia have shown keen interest in cultural tourism, and have a fondness for sandy, clean beaches with plenty of sunshine.
“The Sipadan beach resort with its excellent scuba diving facilities was seen as an ideal holiday resort for Germans until the recent incident (kidnapping of German tourists by Philippine Muslim rebels)… however, Malaysia has other attractive holiday resorts in Penang and elsewhere that can be appealing to Germans,” says a Berlin-based German tour operator who prefers to remain anonymous.
A German family of three were among 21 persons kidnapped from Sipadan on April 23. Fifteen of them, including two of the Germans, have since been released.
Those still in the hands of the kidnappers are a German, three Frenchmen and two Finns.