PETALING JAYA- Malaysia's tourism industry stands to benefit in the short term as tourists shy away from Thailand due to the military coup there, according to the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA).
Its president Hamzah Rahmat suggested that foreign tourists planning a trip to Thailand could opt for Malaysia.
"There could be a spillover not only to Malaysia but other countries in the region," he said.
He explained that in the long term, Malaysia's tourism industry would be better off if the political situation returned to normal in Thailand.
"Many tourists arrive in Singapore before heading to Malaysia and Thailand," he said.
Tourism Malaysia director-general Datuk Mirza Mohammad Taiyab, when contacted, also said Malaysia stood to gain from those who booked group holidays but no longer wanted to go to Thailand.
He felt that individual travellers would likely defer their trips to Thailand.
As for tourists from China, a check at several travel agencies providing inbound packages from China indicated lukewarm response.
A travel agency official said that most of their customers from China preferred to visit during the year-end to escape the winter there.
More than 1.6 million Chinese tourists visited Malaysia in 2013, making them the third largest group of foreigners after Singaporeans and Indonesians.