Malaysians already eyeing next year's holidays

One of Pulau Tioman's beaches.

PETALING JAYA - Even as they are vacationing, Malaysians are already planning for next year's holidays.

Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) vice-president of ground transportation Jayakumar S. Sinnadurai said companies have started making reservations with travel agencies for their corporate trips.

"We have received bookings for the weekends extended by celebrations such as, Wesak Day (Sunday) and Chinese New Year," he said.

"Islands in the east coast of the peninsula like Pulau Tioman, Pulau Kapas and Pulau Perhentian are popular choices."

National Tourism Council of Malaysia vice-president Jimmy Leong Wie Kong claimed that more companies are organising such trips as a form of incentive for employees.

"Long weekends are great as they do not restrict company trips to just nearby locations," Leong said.

"Such incentive trips help in employer-employee bonding and are increasingly popular.

Individuals are also planning their "escapades".

Web designer Ivan Tong Tian Shen, 26, is looking forward to his next hike.

"I went on a 14-day trek on the Annapurna trail in Nepal earlier this year with a bunch of good friends," he said.

"I was captivated by the breathtaking view and want to relive the experience."

Banking executive Grace Chu, 25, who works in Kuala Lumpur, is hoping for more than just one visit from her parents in Sabah this year.

"Since they live so far away, I usually only get visits from them once a year," said Chu, who misses her mother's cooking.

Then there are those who just need a break.

Undergraduate Ng Lai Quan, 20, who is also an administrative and marketing assistant, said it was very stressful to study and work at the same time.

"I'm lucky to be able to manage my time but it leaves me exhausted every day when I get home," said Ng, who is pursuing a degree in business management in Klang.

"I am grateful for these extended weekends because they give me time to rest."

Despite all the enthusiasm for travel, MATTA is still priming itself for a weak first half for next year, business-wise.

"It is going to be a challenging year ahead. The weakening ringgit and the imposition of the Goods and Services Tax will definitely affect the tourism industry," said MATTA president Hamzah Rahmat.

According to Hamzah, some upside including a return to normalcy is expected in the second half of 2015, after consumers are accustomed to the changes.

Borneo Trails Travel and Tours Sdn Bhd managing director Datuk Tan Kok Liang also believed that the weaker ringgit would discourage outbound travel.