With direct flights from the UK to Langkawi from this December, linking with 14-day Asian cruise itineraries, TUI is launching a unique new tourism product.

Tourism Malaysia and TUI Group have announced a new Fly & Cruise programme that’s expected to increase European tourist arrivals to Malaysia and boost the country’s cruise tourism.

The announcement was made during TUI Group’s courtesy visit on 12 April to the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, represented by Director General of Tourism Malaysia, YBhg. Datuk Seri Mirza Mohammad Taiyab.

The Fly & Cruise programme will run from 20 December 2018 until 29 March 2019, with TUI Group offering direct flights to Langkawi and thereafter regional cruises for its European customers. Passengers will be delivered on three fortnightly flights on the 787 Dreamliner from three UK airports (Gatwick, Manchester and Birmingham) to Langkawi.

With TUI Group’s cruise ship homeporting in Langkawi, all passengers will spend at least one night in Langkawi before embarking on a 14-day cruise itinerary which will also include destinations such as Penang, Port Klang and Melaka in Malaysia, as well as Singapore, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand.

The total potential capacity is expected to be about 7,200 passengers in the first year of operation.

Datuk Seri Mirza welcomed the decision of TUI Group to strengthen its presence in Malaysia, saying “We are very happy about TUI’s decision to offer flights and cruises from Langkawi. As the leading European tourism business, this initiative by TUI Group will strongly boost the visibility of Malaysia across all European source markets. At the same time, our position as an international transportation hub will increase and add value to our economy.”

He added, “This programme will see a new chapter of collaboration with Europe’s biggest agents, especially TUI Group – the newly crowned Best Foreign Tour Operator during the Malaysia Tourism Awards 2016/17 – and will firmly put Malaysia on the cruise tourism map.”

He said, “This initiative also supports the Visit Malaysia 2020 (VM2020) campaign that is projected to welcome 36 million tourists to Malaysia and register RM168 billion in tourist receipts for the country.”

Frank Vahldiek, Director International Partnerships of TUI Group said, “Our strategic priority is to drive growth in all-year destinations – and Asia is one of the key growth regions. Our European customers show an ever growing interest to visit countries such as Malaysia.”

He added, “Malaysia is both a beautiful truly Asian destination – and an exciting market for our touristic products at the same time. Hence we are now developing exciting programmes for Malaysian and Asian customers who are increasingly looking to book Western-style holidays in regional destinations.”

He continued, “We are determined to grow our presence in Malaysia further. This will continue to strengthen the Malaysian tourism sector with its positive knock-on effects in other sectors of the economy.”

Currently, all three cruise companies of TUI Group – TUI Cruises, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises as well as UK-based Marella Cruises – have now included Malaysia in their programs. With three Malaysian ports of call – including one homeport (Langkawi, Port Klang and Penang), TUI Group’s cruise companies is expected to help drive growth for Malaysia’s cruise tourism sector.