• Tue
  • Dec 23, 2014
  • Updated: 11:20am
Malaysia Airlines flight 370
Flight MH370

Chinese tourists boycott Malaysia in wake of MH370 disappearance

Chinese tourists are shunning Malaysia, with some even calling for a boycott, in the aftermath of the disappearance of flight MH370

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 26 March, 2014, 7:52pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 27 March, 2014, 9:41am

Mainland travel agencies have reported a sharp drop in the number of Chinese visitors to Malaysia.

Some mainlanders, led by celebrities, were also calling for a tourism boycott to the popular holiday destination following the disappearance of Flight 370 on March 8.

“In the two weeks after the incident, we have seen the number of clients from northern China going to Malaysia declining 50 per cent compared with the same period last year, including group and independent travellers,” said Dun Jidong, a senior marketing manager at Ctrip.com, China’s largest travel booking website.

Watch: Chinese relatives demand 'truth' over MH370 crash

Three top travel agencies, China International Travel Service, China Youth Travel Service and BTG International Travel and Tours, have reported similar declines.

“The impact has spread to most destinations in Southeast Asia,” said a travel agent with the China International who declined to be named. “Many of our travel packages include Malaysia and Thailand and people are reluctant to go there not only because of the missing plane, but also Thailand’s political turmoil.”

But at a resort in Kota Kinabalu, the seaside capital of Sabah state in northeast Malaysia, business was unaffected, at least for now, an employee said.

“Most of our clients have booked their rooms one or two months in advance,” said Aaron Chang, a project manager at KK-Suites Residence. “We might see the real impact in one or two months.”

According to Tourism Malaysia, 1.79 million Chinese visited the country last year, a nearly 15 per cent annual increase.

China is the third largest source of visitors for Malaysia, in which tourism is the sixth contributor of its gross domestic product.

Luo Juan, a senior analyst with market research company Forward Information, predicted Chinese arrivals would this year drop by 20-40 per cent, representing 400,000 to 800,000 tourists.

If each tourist spent an average of 10,000 yuan during the stay, the total loss could rise to 4-8 billion yuan, Luo said.

“A recovery might only be seen after about one year,” she said.

It remains to be seen what effect the boycott calls will have on the industry.

Chen Kun, a popular film star in China, urged people to avoid Malaysia in a weibo posting.

“I … will start a boycott from my inner heart on any commercials and travel relating to Malaysia. This will last … until the Malaysian government takes down their clown-like mask and tells the truth,” he said.

Chen has more than 70 million followers on weibo and his post has been republished over 70,000 times, drawing nearly 30,000 comments, many of them supportive.

Some travellers were cancelling their bookings. Wang Dezhang, a businessman in Shanghai, said his wife and daughter, together with 14 other parents and children, changed their plans to visit Malaysia in July.

“We have booked everything, but still decided to cancel the trip as everybody is concerned about the safety issue,” he said.

China Youth Travel Service has stopped collaborating with Malaysia Airlines on package tours in Kota Kinabalu and promised to a full refund to any customers who wanted to cancel.

“After the MH370 incident happened, the number of travel inquiries to Malaysia has almost dropped to zero, although it is the off-season to go to Malaysia,” said Ge Lei, a marketing director with China Youth Travel Service.

The airline has suspended Flight 318/319, which replaced MH 370/371, and service between Kuala Lumpur and Beijing would be put on hold beginning May 2. Some industry insiders say it was due to a lack of passengers.

Illustration: Lau Ka-kuen



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This article is now closed to comments

As a Malaysian, I feel for all the unfortunate passengers on board the ill-fated MH370 and their families. No words of condolence can help lessen the pain. We've lost our brothers and sisters too and the same goes for 12 other nations.
What saddens me is the antics employed by these Chinese nationals. Our government is trying their level best to assist everyone affected by this saga. Instead of being thanked for our efforts, we are being accused of murder, instigators of conspiracy theory and hiding the truth.
Let me throw a few questions back at you. If you claim we are hiding the truth, how do you think it's possible if we are working with 26 other countries on the SAR operation and investigation? That equates to you saying 27 countries including your own China is hiding the truth. If you claim your relatives are murdered because of a conspiracy theory instigated by the Malaysian government. Let me remind you to stay off late night dramas. No sane government will send a USD261.5 million jumbo jet into the depth of the Indian Ocean with 239 people on board. Putting aside the financial loss, how are we going to face the world if found guilty. It just doesn't add up and a gamble too big to handle.
Go ahead with your boycott I say. We Malaysians welcome all but you for making us look bad on the world stage. We don't need your spit and rowdiness on our land. Being the 2nd biggest economy of the world with such uncultured ethics is nothing but a big shame.
Best news I've heard since the plane went missing. Yes, please boycott Malaysia. Now tourists from other countries who visit Malaysia as well as Malaysians wouldn't have to deal with rude, loud, mannerless Mainland Chinese anymore! We can now shop, eat, walk or take the trains without having these back-of-the-woods people pushing and shoving and cutting queues and spitting everywhere! Or disturbing the peace by shouting at each other at the top of their lungs when they are just speaking to each other. PLEASE DON'T COME TO MALAYSIA.
I wish the Chinese will boycot all countries for holidays...it will give a breath of relief all over the world!!
You guys really have a strange problem. China has only recently allowed its people to travel abroad freely and they must know there are risks involved. Planes rarely crash now, but in the past it has been much more frequent and about every ten years the there is a really big one. It's like winning the lottery, except with the opposite result. There are risks with traveling and this is why many people, including myself will not travel as a tourist to the Middle East. How many times have we heard of innocent Koreans being blown up, or German pensioners being gunned down....? Did they start protesting Egypt? There is no travel deity that will protect travelers from any danger. Even I know I am taking big risks when I travel to the Mainland. You laugh? I know that if I am seriously injured, 1) nobody will likely come to my aid and 2) if its serious enough, but yet survivable, in China I'm probably still going to die even if the taxi gets me to the hospital in time. Even without all the BS and calls for boycotts against Malaysia or Malaysian airlines, the airline and the country are going to pay a heavy price for years. The airline's reputation is ruined for a now and I am sure everybody there wishes they would just find the plane so this could be over and they can start handling the aftermath. I am dumbfounded when I try to understand why Mainland Chinese are now calling the Malaysians murders. I have never seen such unreasonableness in recent memory.
Why don't Chinese tourists boycott EVERY country please and make this world a better place?
The world sees China as an arrogant & ungrateful bully that mistreats another country that treated it well, even during times when China had no friends. Who was one of the first non-communist countries to establish bilateral ties with China? Who sent rescue teams and donations to China whenever there were great disasters?
You do not have the moral high ground to talk down to Malaysia.
And since your useless celebrities have jumped into the boycotting bandwagon, wouldn’t be much of a loss for Malaysians to play the same game & boycott them as well.
most of these prc chinese are borderline nationalist extremists!!! prc is one of the worst place to visit as a tourists!! even many of the prc chinese no longer vacation in prc. it is polluted, high price, and most of the so called scenery are fake!!!
as far as the part of telling the truth, i do not think i need to comment anymore. i will visit malaysia anytime and I will fly malaysian airline instead of a prc airline any day
Yes, please do so.
Malaysia will be peaceful without China tourists scream to each other even when they are not fighting nor talk loudly as if their friends are like 1 to 2 miles away from them while their friends only beside them! hah! china people don't like to queue and they spit anywhere too! uncivilised behaviour huh... or maybe they should boycott other countries too, there's once when I was relaxing at the beach in Bali and a group of China people was there too and they talk very loud and all I can say was (knowing they wouldn't understand) "alright, there goes my beach getaway from hectic city lifestyle!"
Grow up China people, this kinda incident could happen to any airlines and countries.
What a joke many of these mainlanders are, always irrational & being led by the nose by their government who just want to channel away the anger & collective dissatisfactions of its citizens.
Is your own government that innocent, honest & transparent? May I ask how did your government handle the Wenzhou train disaster? How about the Sichuan earthquake? Yeah, I'm sure your government was REALLY honest & transparent.
Why do you keep insisting that Malaysia is hiding something? Takes one to know one? Why don't you ask your own government if they could be hiding information as well, since they obviously have more advanced surveillance satellite systems compared to poor little Malaysia. Why couldn't they track the plane? Remember the first few days when China claimed they saw wreckage in South China Seas & gave everyone a wild goose chase?
Numerous conspiracy theories are flying around & many of them indicated your own government’s direct or indirect involvement in the plane going missing. Imagine if one of these theories turned out to be true, based on your own twisted logic should the whole world then boycott all things Chinese, INDEFINITELY? There are more than a dozen nationalities in that plane, not just yours. Remember that.



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