Most Malaysians continue to choose domestic vacations over international trips, as indicated by recent data from vacation rental company Airbnb.
Airbnb’s internal data on bookings and check-ins reveals that the number of stays booked in Malaysia doubled in 2022 compared to 2020, with the country ranking as the top travel destination among locals last year.
Kuala Lumpur leads as the most popular domestic destination for Malaysians, followed by Penang, Kota Baru (Kelantan), Petaling Jaya (Selangor), and Langkawi (Kedah), based on platform bookings.
The data also highlights a surge in solo travel within Malaysia, with related bookings doubling year-over-year in 2022. Globally, solo travelers accounted for roughly a quarter of all nights booked last year. To address this trend, Airbnb introduced its Solo Traveller Safety feature, available in English, Bahasa Malaysia, and Chinese, to ensure safe and convenient travel in the country.
Amanpreet Bajaj, Airbnb’s General Manager for Southeast Asia, India, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, expressed enthusiasm about the current domestic travel rebound, stating, “With 2025 set to be Visit Malaysia Year, we are delighted to see the current travel rebound across the country and the benefits that’s bringing to local communities across the country… The enthusiasm among Malaysians to explore their own backyard, coupled with the growing excitement among international visitors to experience Malaysia’s beautiful landscapes and rich cultural heritage, is extremely encouraging.”
Bajaj added that increased tourism dollars would support local businesses and jobs, and that Airbnb is committed to working closely with the government and industry stakeholders to bolster ongoing travel recovery efforts.
While Malaysians are mainly opting for local travel, they are also increasingly eager to explore destinations within and outside the Asia Pacific region. According to the data, Asia Pacific destinations were among the most booked by Malaysians, with Britain ranking first, followed by Australia, Thailand, South Korea, and Indonesia.
In 2022, the top overseas cities booked by Malaysians were London, Bangkok, Melbourne, Paris, and Jakarta. Singapore, the United States, Britain, Australia, and Indonesia were the top countries of origin for international Airbnb guests in Malaysia.
Airbnb anticipates a more significant travel rebound in 2023, with group travels continuing to dominate booking types in Malaysia, particularly during the upcoming Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebrations. Searches for the Ramadan period in Malaysia have grown nearly 600%, based on check-ins between March 23 and April 21 this year compared to April 3 and May 2 last year.
Kota Kinabalu (Sabah), Johor Baru, George Town (Penang), Kuching (Sarawak), and Alor Setar (Kedah) are the most-searched cities for Hari Raya festivities, based on the growth in searches for Malaysia from March 23 to April 21 this year compared to the same period last year.
In terms of sustainable tourism, a survey commissioned by booking platform Agoda placed Japan at the top for sustainability and conservation efforts, followed by Singapore and South Korea. Malaysia ranked eighth among the 12 listed countries. The survey, which had over 13,000 respondents from more than 10 countries, marked the beginning of Agoda’s Eco Deals campaign, aiming to raise US$250,000 for the World Wide Fund for Nature’s conservation initiatives in India and Southeast Asia.
Most respondents appreciated their home countries’ conservation measures, ranking them in the top three. However, Malaysian respondents ranked their country third, behind Japan and Singapore.
Enric Casals, Regional Vice-President for Southeast Asia and Oceania at Agoda, stated that travelers are increasingly looking to minimize their ecological impact while positively influencing the places they visit. Agoda’s Eco Deals program intends to support conservation initiatives by donating US$1 to the WWF for each booking made through participating accommodations.
This year, properties from Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and India join Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and the Philippines in the Eco Deals campaign. Travelers can participate by booking accommodations displaying the Eco Deals badge on Agoda’s website or app. The campaign runs until September 2, 2023, or until the target amount is reached.