Channel NewsAsia

Weaker ringgit a boon to Malaysia's tourism sector

A weaker Malaysian currency of late is giving the country's tourism sector a boost. As Channel NewsAsia finds out, foreign tourists are staying longer and spending more.

MALAYSIA: The Malaysian ringgit is at an all-time low against some major currencies, no thanks to outflows of funds as the US Federal Reserve cuts down on its stimulus measures.

For some industries, a weaker ringgit is a blessing in disguise.

Some hoteliers in the capital city Kuala Lumpur said this has prompted a surge in visitors -- especially from neighbouring Singapore -- during the Lunar New Year celebrations.

Not only do they tend to stay longer, they are also spending more.

Peter Padman, director of operations at the Seri Pacific Hotel, said: "We did have an influx of Singaporeans coming over, especially over Chinese New Year. With a stronger dollar, they have a better time here. Our occupancy showed an increase compared to previous year."

Some retailers are also enjoying roaring sales -- in particular, souvenir and specialty shops that cater to tourists

Andrew Lee, CEO of The Arch Group, said: "It's good for us at least when tourists come in here, they say the exchange rate is good and they keep buying things. For the last six months, our sales have almost doubled."

90 per cent of Mr Lee's customers are foreigners -- with tourists from China making about half the numbers.

While the 15-day Lunar New Year celebrations are drawing to a close, there is no let up in tourism promotional campaigns. In fact, the Kuala Lumpur City Hall is rolling out a special horse and carriage ride to provide tourists a unique and classic experience through the historic Independence Square. 

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