Qatar Airways’ new four-times-weekly Penang-Doha flights have helped to bring Europeans back to Malaysia.
Armed with a bigger budget, Penang Global Tourism is targeting Europe’s long-haul markets, encouraged by Qatar Airways’ four-times-weekly Penang-Doha flights that started in February, TTG Asia reports.
The Doha launch is a big boost given the limited travel options from Europe to this part of Malaysia, especially since Malaysia Airlines cut back on its Europe routes after 2015.
Now, however, arrivals from Europe make up 10% of air arrivals into the state, an acceleration from this time last year. Europeans are also flying in with Singapore Airlines, Cathay Dragon, China Southern Airlines and China Airlines.
Ooi Chok Yan, CEO of Penang Global Tourism, says that arrivals are increasing from Sweden, Norway, Finland, Germany, the UK, Spain and the Netherlands – and there is more than 100% growth from Eastern Europe.
He says that the association has worked closely with Qatar Airways to raise the destination’s profile, for example by organising fam trips to promote its attractions including heritage, cuisine, nature and beaches.
“We have enough products in Penang to cater for both middle-class and luxury tourists looking for unique, quality experiences. The average stay of European tourists to Penang is between four and seven days.”
Qatar Airways’ Doha-Penang flights have enabled Malaysian tour operators to start their European programmes in Penang and end it in Kuala Lumpur, says Lex Lam, director of sales at Discovery Overland Holidays.
“We also promote Penang to Europeans as a better option to Singapore, in terms of cultural diversity, historical value and nature-based products,” he added.