KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia was among the top five countries for Thai travelers last year, said Agoda, a global digital travel platform based on its booking data.
The other top four countries were Japan, Vietnam, Taiwan, and South Korea, respectively.
In Malaysia, tourists from Thailand preferred Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Langkawi, Johor Baru, and Genting Highlands when booking their stay on Agoda.
On their preferred city destinations, Thai travelers had put Kuala Lumpur in eighth place globally, together with Tokyo, Osaka, Singapore, Taipei, Seoul, Hong Kong, and Sapporo.
The same traveling trend was recorded by Thai Grab users who, based on the e-hailing data from 2018, booked a third of their overseas rides to Malaysia.
Thailand was ranked 4th in contribution to total tourist arrivals in Malaysia, registering almost two million arrivals.
Shopping ranked high for the Thais based on their Grab rides. In Kuala Lumpur, their favorite malls were Pavilion Kuala Lumpur and KL Sentral.
Tourism Malaysia has included Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC), Mitsui Outlet Park KLIA and Genting Highlands Premium Outlets to their preference list.
Thais also made their way to Malaysia for the annual Rainforest World Music Festival in Kuching, Sarawak, and the Malaysian MotoGP in Sepang, according to Tourism Malaysia.
They are big fans of theme parks, with the Legoland Malaysia in Johor Baru, Lost World of Tambun in Ipoh and Sunway Lagoon in Subang Jaya topping the list of their preferred theme parks.
However, what attracted Thais most was the fact that they have many options to enter Malaysia — via air, sea, road, and rail.
More than 80 percent of the arrivals were recorded via road and ferry (to Langkawi).
Tapping on the traveling trend, Resorts World Genting had introduced a new bus route to Hatyai last October.
A shopping destination, Hatyai is Thailand’s southernmost city, located less than 60km from the Malaysia-Thailand border.
Priced at RM85, the bus service by Aerobus is a direct service from First World Hotel in Genting Highlands to Hatyai and back.
“Genting Highlands Resort is popular among Thai tourists even though traveling options are limited to private or chartered vehicles,” said Aviation & Logistics, Transport vice-president Tey Chun Kee.
In a news report in June last year, Thai ambassador to Malaysia Narong Sasitorn, when commenting on the 24-hour trial operations at the Malaysian-Thai border in Bukit Kayu Hitam, which is now extended to June, forecast five million Thai tourist arrivals due to better border connectivity,
This news goes well with Tourism Malaysia’s move to enhance overland travel with packages offered by travel agencies in Southern Thailand.
Though the packages mainly covered destinations on the west coast of the peninsular, a Kota Baru-based travel agency has been handling groups from the neighboring country.
“For those holidaying in Malaysia, they use Kelantan to get to Johor Baru before proceeding to Singapore,” said Jasa Teratai Holidays Sdn Bhd managing director Mimi Rodiah Abd Rahman.
“Most of them use Sultan Ismail Petra Airport is a connecting point since the airport has more connecting flights compared with the airports in Hatyai and Narathiwat, especially for umrah departures,” she added.
Source; New Strait Times Malaysia