Thousands of Chinese nationals have cancelled their holiday plans in Malaysia due to the haze covering the skyline of the nation
The Malaysia Inbound Chinese Association (MICA) told The Malaysian Insight that about 2,000 to 3,000 tourists under 100 tour groups from China, Hong Kong, and Macau have cancelled their trips to Malaysia in September and October.
"These groups decided to divert to Vietnam, the Philippines, and Thailand as a result of the smoke," its president Angie Ng said.
Ng said that 70 to 80 travel agencies suffered a 20% drop in business due to the cancellations.
"The impact is disastrous, although some tour groups have had enough time to cancel. Others are not so fortunate, and they had to continue with the tourists complaining," she added.
From beaches to national parks and Kuala Lumpur's skyline, most of Malaysia's attractions are outdoors. Ng said all tour agents can do is distribute face masks to clients.
Ng explained that tour agents cannot swap out outdoor attractions such as the National Monument for indoor activities, moreover it would be pointless to visit KL Tower if all tourists could see is the haze-laden city.
This does not include many domestic flights that have been cancelled recently due to bad visibility. Such a situation would render tourists helpless when trying to travel to other states or to Singapore.
Worse yet, the presence of haze in Malaysia is extremely untimely as it coincides with the Golden Week in China
Chinese nationals will be having a week-long holiday in conjunction with its National Day on 1 October. Many of them leverage on this holiday to take a vacation.
Out of RM84.1 billion in overall tourism receipts last year, China was Malaysia's biggest spender with RM12.3 billion, New Straits Times reported.
Tourism Malaysia's data revealed that a China tourist spends an average of RM4,411 here.
During last year's Golden Week, Malaysia suffered an estimated 30% drop in Chinese tourists too, something which former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said was due to the then-ongoing trade dispute with China, Straits Times reported.
However, the weather could be changing for the better as the monsoon season approaches this week