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October 22, 2015

Asia: Peak India Incentive Season Ablaze Due To Haze

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Malaysia agencies handling MICE groups from India are being affected by the haze in the current peak season and fear that arrivals in the coming years will drop due to bad experiences this year.

The haze is a result of uncontrolled fires raging in forests and peatlands in parts of Indonesia, coupled with the extended dry weather caused by a longer El Nino season this year.

Luxury Tours Malaysia senior manager, Arokia Das, said: “For the first time, our incentive business to Langkawi was affected due to the thick haze on October 4 and 5. On October 4, we had to cancel outdoor activities such as mangrove tour and island-hopping for an incentive group of 250 people. However, we were still charged for the boats.

“Then on October 5, Langkawi International Airport runway was closed for three hours due to poor visibility. Flights could not land or take off. Departures for Kuala Lumpur were affected and the group had to wait at the airport until services resumed.

“There was a gala dinner in Kuala Lumpur that night and about 70 people could not make it on time. Word of this event will definitely spread and I am deeply concerned that Malaysia will lose incentive business from India to other destinations such as Hong Kong, Sri Lanka and Bangkok due to the haze.”

He added MICE organisers from India had asked for assurance the haze would not be present when their group arrives in November. “We told them that the haze is beyond our control and they should look at city destinations (where there are indoor options) and avoid going to islands,” he said.

Hidden Asia Travel & Tours managing director, Nanda Kumar, fears an incentive group from India which the company is handling will take legal action. “Their programme was disrupted when their flight from Kuala Lumpur to Langkawi was delayed for five hours and outdoor teambuilding activities had to be done indoors. The MICE organiser wished to deduct payment for the teambuilding activities which were not carried out as planned," said Nanda.

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