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Europe, China Tourists to Drive Malaysian Heritage Hospitality Occupancy Growth

KUALA LUMPUR: Heritage hospitality in Malaysia, particularly those connected to the hospitality industry, continue to gain recognition among tourists for their unique ability to offer an authentic glimpse into the country’s cultural history.

Temple Tree Resort Langkawi resort manager Irene Vairo said that European and Chinese tourists will drive the international market occupancy growth for heritage hotels and resorts in the next two to three years.

These architectural treasures connect young and old visitors to Malaysia’s rich and diverse traditions.

Domestic and international tourists are increasingly searching for the charm of those background buildings that awaken nostalgia and curiosity and showcase Malaysia’s past.

From Malay kampung houses to colonial-era mansions, these are indispensable to Malaysia’s tourism attraction, drawing visitors eager to explore the country’s cultural soul.

Temple Tree Resort Langkawi resort manager Irene Vairo said that in the next two to three years, European and Chinese tourists will drive the international market occupancy growth for heritage hotels and resorts.

“We continuously see foreign tourists visiting Malaysia for a different and unique experience.

“These international tourists find Malaysian heritage and culture interesting, and they want to experience that heritage feeling,” she told The Exchange Asia.

Temple Tree Resort Langkawi is one of the notable heritage resorts in Malaysia and has gained popularity among travellers seeking cultural and heritage experiences.

Situated within a century-old coconut tree plantation, the resort offers 21 rooms and suites in eight heritage buildings.

Temple Tree Resort Langkawi offers accommodation in eight houses, namely Straits, Johor, Colonial, Estate, and Plantation, with heritage houses from Penang, Ipoh, and Negeri Sembilan.

The resort’s designers carefully relocated these heritage buildings from different parts of Malaysia.

Each building is aged between 80 and 120 and showcases various architectural styles.

Despite their age, the buildings provide modern amenities such as plush bedding, air conditioning, wifi, and digital entertainment, offering guests the choice to choose from a range of rooms and suites, each with its own unique character.

Irene said the resort’s commitment to preserving history sets Temple Tree Resort Langkawi apart from other heritage hospitality establishments in Malaysia.

“Our international travellers are predominantly from the United Kingdom, Australia, Holland, France, and
China

“Weddings are another fast-growing segment, particularly mixed marriages, where couples come from different countries and select an island wedding in Langkawi,” Irene said.

A report from IMARC Group highlights that the growth of the heritage hospitality market is driven by the rise of heritage tour operators specialising in creating tailored travel experiences, which is also seen in Malaysia.

These operators design trips that appeal to those interested in thoroughly examining cultural and historical landmarks.

The report noted that by providing meticulously planned itineraries and distinctive perspectives, they draw in a specific group of clients, including history buffs, cultural scholars, and inquisitive tourists.

Further, the report also said that the growing impact of social media and travel influencers is also boosting the heritage hospitality market.

With their large followings and engaged audiences, travel influencers highlight their visits to heritage sites, crafting engaging stories that resonate with their followers.

The report noted that as social media and influencer marketing continue to develop, their influence on heritage tourism is anticipated to increase, affecting travel choices and moulding how people experience and value cultural heritage.

When asked about challenges in maintaining and operating a heritage hospitality establishment, Irene said maintenance costs are the biggest challenge in running the business.

“Like any other property, whether old or new, maintenance and repair are an ongoing process, and when operating a heritage resort, even more maintenance and repair are needed to preserve each house’s historical authenticity.

“We have daily, weekly, monthly maintenance operations, including landscape works, that must be preserved and maintained to keep the establishment well and appealing, and this has become costlier than before due to the increase in raw material prices and labour costs,” Irene pointed out.

Irene said having a good and reliable renovation team that understands heritage and is passionate about this area is important.

“This speciality skill is a niche and is not widely available. We do not see this as a challenge but rather a commitment to preserve these historic houses, promote sustainability, and promote Malaysian culture and history for many years,” she said.

Irene said Malaysia has a great advantage compared to some of the regional
players where English is spoken widely, and conversing with guests from all over the world is easy.

“Our pricing factor is also a lot more affordable when compared to Bali for instance.

“Accessibility has improved with an international airport here on the island, and a plus point is that guests can get to the island by land, air or sea.

“This accessibility will benefit domestic and foreign tourists looking at a unique cultural experience from heritage hospitality providers like Temple Tree Resort Langkawi,” Irene said.

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