Tourists heading for destinations within the Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand-Growth Triangle areas during the region’s Visit IMT-GT 2008 year are spoilt for flights and choice of destinations following a “free-fall” of ticket prices by leading regional carriers Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia.
IMT-GT destinations including Jakarta, Yogyakarta (Indonesia), Langkawi, Kota Bahru (Malaysia), Chiang Mai, and Krabi (Thailand) are poised to receive its share of tourists from member countries.
At the recent ASEAN Tourism Ministers' Meeting in Bangkok, Malaysian Tourism Minister Tengku Adnan disclosed that many activities have been lined up to celebrate the Visit IMTGT 2008 through to 2009.
"The tourism industry within the IMT-GT growth areas will get a boost with the opening of more air routes," said Minister Adnan. According to him recently, there have been more efforts to open up more destinations within the region. "Greater connectivity will help in promoting the growth triangle areas, benefiting the people through tourism and economic activities.
The Malaysian minister added: "In addition, many carriers from participating countries have asked for waiver of landing fees and discounts on airport fees. Carriers have proposed starting new routes, including Hatyai-Subang, Batam-Langkawi, Hatyai-Langkawi and Bandar Acheh-Penang."
Spreading its wings as well as introducing new routes, Malaysia Airlines and its subsidiaries are offering up to six million seats, from “free” seats to some with up to 70 percent discount, during its yearly Malaysia Airlines travel fair.
For the first time, Malaysia Airlines subsidiaries MASwings and low-cost carrier Firefly are offering 150,000 'free seats' to introduce its brand and routes to the flying public.
Not to be “unseated” by its competitor, AirAsia is offering online a million seats, starting from less than US$3 cents, excluding taxes. "This is part of our gesture to make holidays more affordable," said spokeswoman Kathleen Tan.
The ASEAN Secretariat plans to also promote the region as a single destination by publishing a coffee-table book, similar to the Commonwealth Tourism Center's book on Commonwealth countries.
"Despite pushing for a similar project for the region for many years, our efforts have received little support due to financial constrains faced by the other developing countries," said Adnan.