'Chinese tourists cancel Malaysia trip over missing MH370'

Written by PTI | Kuala Lumpur | Updated: Apr 20 2014, 22:55pm hrs
MhMore than two-thirds of those on board the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 are Chinese.
Nearly 30 per cent of Chinese tourists have cancelled their bookings to visit Malaysia this year since the mysterious disappearance of a Malaysian jet with 227 passengers, over two-thirds of them Chinese, adversely hitting the country's tourism industry.

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"Due to the promotion of Visit Malaysia Year 2014, many had initially made preparations to visit Malaysia in the second half of this year but we have received many cancellations since the MH370 incident," Tourism Malaysia Chairman Ng Yen Yen has said.

More than two-thirds of those on board the missing Beijing-bound Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 are Chinese. Malaysia has been criticised for its handling of the tragedy, particularly by the relatives of the 154 Chinese passengers on board the plane, besides being accused of hiding crucial information.

It is estimated that 100,000 tourists from China visit Malaysia each month and each of them would spend RM2,800 (USD 865) while in the country, but following the disappearance of the Malaysia Airlines flight, 30 per cent of their bookings have been cancelled and it involved a cost RM100 million in just six weeks," she told reporters here last week. Ng said the tragedy had also affected travel and tour operators who were now left to handle only five groups of tourists daily compared to 20 groups daily previously, Bernama news agency reported.

The data on the slump in in-bound tourists from China was collected by the Malaysia Inbound Tourism Association which manages a majority of the Chinese tourist arrivals in the country through its network of some 70 companies.

Apart from the MH370 incident, the abduction of a Chinese tourist by armed men at the Singamata Reef Resort off Semporna in Sabah on April 2 also contributed to a drop in tourist arrivals from Hong Kong and Taiwan. Ng said the biggest impact of potential revenue loss from Chinese tourists involved those originating from major cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

She said China Southern Airlines, which had three flights connecting Kuala Lumpur and China daily, would reduce the frequency to one flight per day starting next month, joining Xiamen Airlines, which had also scrapped plans to increase flights connecting both countries.

Beijing-bound Flight MH370, with 239 people aboard, left Kuala Lumpur International Airport on March 8 and disappeared from radar screens about an hour later while over the South China Sea.

A multi-nation search operation led by Australia during the last 44 days has been scouring the Indian Ocean but has failed to find the crucial black boxes or the debris of the plane.