MILENNIALS are more than just a tech-savvy, ride-sharing generation. They are mobile, opting for experiences like travel over possessions.
I share this aspect of my generation’s passions, constantly trying to save for my next adventure to refresh and reignite that pure desire of experience something new.
But a weaker ringgit, along with an increasing cost of living have hampered the travel aspirations of young Malaysians.
It’s a fact that air travel is getting more expensive in Malaysia. It was recently announced that the Passenger Service Charge (PSC) will be increased to RM73 from RM50 at klia2—our supposed ‘budget’ airport— as well as a RM1 levy for all departing passengers starting early next year.
Although the increase will only affect non-ASEAN international flights, the PSC rates for domestic and ASEAN flights have already been raised earlier this year to RM11 and RM35, respectively in all Malaysian airports.
Escalating travel expenses may not necessarily stop Malaysians – young and old – from taking the occasional trip abroad, but it doesn’t leave much room for younger Malaysians to save money for other pursuits.
For many young Malaysians, these costs might dissuade them from traveling altogether. For families, prices may triple or quadruple for a simple getaway, especially to places outside our borders.
In other instances, people will have to rethink their travel options. A friend of mine had been making plans to backpack around Europe for quite some time. But the steady increase of prices for air travel from
Malaysia over the past five years have postponed those plans indefinitely.
Other people I know have actually changed their travel destinations at the last minute because their budget simply could not cover the expenses for the trips that they originally planned on taking.
Most of them consequently opted to go to places that are closer to home where it’s relatively cheaper.
Additional costs associated to traveling in Malaysia have affected our visitors as well. Tourists arriving into the country are forced to spend more money to enjoy our amenities, including the newly-introduced hotel tax that has made booking accommodation more expensive for all travelers from abroad.
Considering these charges, several of my foreign friends with plans to come to Malaysia have expressed great disappointment.
A friend from my alma mater who recently stopped by was surprised by how much money he had to fork out for his travel expenses here compared to Vietnam, even though the two countries are close neighbours.
Millennials who travel on a budget are hurt the most, so to speak. Travel the world on a shoestring budget
Guides on how-to save money may be useful but they do not necessarily cover the airfare and other unavoidable expenses.
The so-called ‘traveling on a budget’ trend may not cut it anymore as “cheap travel” opportunities are getting scarce, especially with the authorities seemingly determined to finding ways to make “cheap travel” less accessible to everyone.
Some people have shrugged it off and argued that it’s merely tough times for our economy, and that it’s a matter of better planning our travels or investing our financials elsewhere.
But the deliberate price increases for flights and other commodities have limited our capacity to choose those options in the first place.
MILLENNIALS consider travel as very important, it represents that one chance in a year where we get to explore cultures different from our own, a youthful curiosity unchained from the rituals of everyday work.
Moreover, encouraging young Malaysians to travel provides them that opportunity to learn more about Malaysia from the outside looking in; fostering open-mindedness and tolerance.
But, millennials aren’t exactly immune to the price increases of travel. We are very much price-conscious travelers.
The authorities need to think twice about imposing further airfare hikes. It shouldn’t seek to clip the wings of young Malaysians.
Until then, we wait with bated breath ...
* Shamil Norshidi is the President of Transparency International Malaysia for 2017-2019 and a crime analyst.
** The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of Astro AWANI.