Data from leading global travel service provider Trip.com Group has revealed that Malaysia will see a 53.9% increase in inbound travel when comparing this year’s Chinese New Year (CNY) festive period with 2023’s CNY period, with an outsized 154.2% increase in total trip expenditure for inbound bookings over the same window. An increase in travel expenditure has been observed across other markets as well, with a particularly acute rise for trips to Japan (+241.9%), which suggests that travellers in general are increasingly willing to spend more on their trips. The average expenditure for Malaysia-outbound trips largely mirrors that for inbound trips, going up by 163.4%.
Part of the reason for increased spending could be due to tourists making longer-haul trips, with more Southeast Asian travellers travelling beyond Southeast Asia (SEA) for the 2024 CNY period. Last year, 72% of CNY travel was intra-SEA, but this has gone down to just over half (50.2%), with the other half visiting destinations further afield.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, SEA countries which have public holidays for Chinese New Year (Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines, Brunei) are seeing more travel during the week of CNY than countries which do not have CNY public holidays (Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar). In the week of CNY, countries with CNY public holidays make up 69.1% of all SEA bookings, versus 59% of all SEA bookings for the week before CNY.
Another two trends that cut across markets are the lengthening of booking windows, and the popularity of theme parks. Travellers are now planning their trips further in advance, with the booking window for trips originating from Malaysia more than quadrupling – from 12 days to 51 days – this CNY compared to last year. This was similar to Thailand, where the booking window surged from nine days to 40 days, with Singapore seeing an increase of two and a half times from 18 to 46 days.
Meanwhile, theme parks rule the roost for most popular attractions for tourists from Southeast Asia. Hong Kong Disneyland is the top choice for travellers from Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand, with Universal Studios Japan; Shanghai Disney Resort; Warner Bros Studio Tour Tokyo – The Making of Harry Potter; and Tokyo Disneyland making up the rest of Malaysia travellers’ top five overseas attractions.
Ms Stephane Thong, General Manager, Trip.com Malaysia, said: “Tourism is an important contributor to the Malaysian economy, and Chinese New Year is traditionally one of the peak travel periods in Asia. With the institution of visa-free travel between Malaysia and China, the world’s largest outbound travel market, and ongoing preparations for Visit Malaysia Year 2026, we expect the recovery of the tourism industry in Malaysia to continue, and we look forward to welcoming more visitors to Malaysia.”