| BEIJING, March 25
BEIJING, March 25 The controversy surrounding
missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 has prompted
many Chinese tourists, who once saw Malaysia as an attractive
holiday destination, to look elsewhere, travel agents said on
Eleven Chinese travel agents told Reuters that bookings
between China and Malaysia had fallen severely, and that many
people have cancelled their trips, amid anger at the perceived
lack of information provided by the Malaysian government to
"We used to have 30 to 40 customers a month for group tours
to Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand. Now there is no one asking
about this route or booking," a travel agent surnamed Chen told
Reuters by telephone.
"Tourists don't even consider going there. Many also have a
negative impression of the country now," said Chen with Comfort
Travel, in the southern city of Guangzhou, which focuses heavily
on Southeast Asia tours.
In Beijing, angry relatives of Chinese passengers aboard the
missing plane protested on Tuesday outside the Malaysian
Embassy, demanding an explanation from the airline and accusing
the government in Kuala Lumpur of "delays and deception".
Flight MH370, with 239 people on board, vanished from
civilian radar screens less than an hour after take-off on March
8 on a routine flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Most of the
passengers were Chinese.
"The Malaysian government deliberately delayed publicising
real information about the flight. We should punish this
completely irresponsible attitude and boycott Malaysian
tourism," said a user of Sina Weibo, China's version of Twitter.
"Originally I was considering travelling in Malaysia this
year, now I think their country is so disgusting," wrote another
microblogger. "They lied to everyone for half a month."
The slowdown in Chinese travel could hurt Malaysia's goal of
boosting tourism, though the impact on the economy may be
limited. Chinese tourist arrivals account for about 12 percent
of Malaysia's total tourists and 0.4 percent of the country's
gross domestic product, Bank of America Merrill Lynch said in a
Malaysia has targeted 28 million tourists this year and 76
billion ringgit ($23 billion) in receipts.
Some Chinese travel agencies have cancelled group trips to
Malaysia and stopped promoting cut-price tickets for fear of
"The Malaysia Airlines incident involves national sentiment.
If we go against the trend now, I'm afraid it will be
provocative," said a travel agent surnamed Xu with another firm.
According to an online poll on Sina's news website, 77.5
percent of more than 21,000 participants said the MH370 furore
would influence their decision on travelling in Malaysia.
Malaysian Tourism Minister Nazri Aziz said on Monday that
"Visit Malaysia Year" roadshows in China would be halted until
the MH370 case is closed.
($1 = 3.3 ringgit)
(Additional reporting by Beijing Newsroom in BEIJING and Stuart
Grudgings and Niluksi Koswanage in KUALA LUMPUR; Editing by Nick