Affluent Malaysians holiday within Asia to stretch their ringgit

KUALA LUMPUR: For affluent Malaysians, travel is a significant part of their lifestyle where on average, nine in 10 go overseas on holiday at least once a year, according to United Overseas Bank (UOB) Affluent Consumer Survey 2016.

The survey polled 509 respondents in Malaysia, aged 25 and above with minimum investable assets of RM500,000.

Yet in light of slow global economic growth and as their financial considerations grow more pronounced, these well-heeled travellers are opting to holiday within the region. The survey revealed that seven in 10 chose Asian destinations for their vacations, with Singapore (46%) and Thailand (42%) topping the list.

UOB Malaysia economist Julia Goh noted that Malaysian consumers are becoming more cost-conscious, especially in light of the weaker ringgit.

“Given the weak ringgit particularly, Malaysian consumers with a yen for travel are choosing Asian destinations to maximise their purchasing power. Their preference for Asian holiday destinations is aided by the increasing number of flights within the region and more competitively priced fares for journeys to and from these countries,” said Goh.

The survey also found that location and travel expenses are the top two considerations for respondents when planning their next holiday destination.

UOB Malaysia managing director and country head of personal financial services Ronnie Lim said to stay relevant in serving the affluent Malaysian population, businesses must provide cost-efficient products and solutions that suit their needs today.

“From credit cards that help customers earn frequent flyer miles faster to travel deals, wealthy customers in the region want products and services that can meet their lifestyle needs and this includes their travel habits,” he said.

UOB Malaysia, which aims to grow its local credit and debit card base, and total billings by 13% and 14% respectively, in the next four years, has embarked on regional partnerships with strategic travel-related brands to strengthen its offers to these customers.

“We anticipate that intra-regional travels will continue to grow among this segment. As such, we will continue to explore partnerships with relevant brands to ensure a suite of regional offerings that is relevant to our customers,” said Lim.