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International Journal of Business and Management

July, 2009

Travelling Pattern and Preferences of the Arab Tourists in Malaysian Hotels Zulkifli Ibrahim Faculty of Hotel and Tourism Management, Universiti Teknologi MARA Shah Alam, 40450, Selangor, Malaysia Tel: 60-3-5543- 5688 E-mail: zul_ibrahim01@yahoo.com.my

Mohd Salehuddin Zahari Faculty of Hotel and Tourism Management, Universiti Teknologi MARA Shah Alam, 40450, Selangor, Malaysia Tel: 60-3-5543- 5680 E-mail: salehuddinm@yahoo.com

Maimunah Sulaiman Faculty of Hotel and Tourism Management, Universiti Teknologi MARA Shah Alam, 40450, Selangor, Malaysia Tel: 60-3-5543 -5671 E-mail: maimun830@salam.uitm.edu.my Zulhan Othman Faculty of Hotel and Tourism Management, Universiti Teknologi MARA Shah Alam, 40450, Selangor, Malaysia Tel: 60-3-5522 -5853 E-mail: zulhan@salam.uitm.edu.my

Kamaruzaman Jusoff (Corresponding author) Yale University, Yale Tropical Resources Institute, School of Forestry & Environmental Studies 205, Prospect St, New Haven, CT 06511, USA Tel: 20-3-676-7761 E-mail: jusoff.kamaruzaman@yale.edu

The research is funded by Universiti Teknologi MARA, Malaysia (Sponsoring information) Abstract This study examined the travelling pattern of the Arab tourists in relation to their purpose and frequency of visit, duration of stay, travelling companions and activities engaged in during the vacation. The preferences of these tourists for hotel restaurant food and front office attributes while staying in selected five star hotels were also investigated. The result demonstrated that Arab tourists came to Malaysia mostly for a vacation with their spouse and children, and the majority of them were visiting for the first time. The major activities engaged in were sightseeing and visiting interesting places plus other activities such as shopping, visiting theme parks and beaches. The average length of stay was from 3-10 nights. The findings also revealed that besides other type of cuisines, home cooking (Arab cuisine) was preferred by the Arab tourists. Similarly, the Arab tourists preferred to have a fast check in, friendly and personalized service and courtesy by front office personnel upon arrival at the hotel. The ability to communicate in and understand the Arabic language among the front office personnel also had a profound effect on their fondness. In turn, a strong relationship among government, local authorities, private agencies and hotel operators should be fostered to capture a larger share of this market segment Keywords: Travelling pattern, Preferences, Arab tourists, Hotel management, Food and beverages, Front office 3

Vol. 4, No. 7 1. Introduction

International Journal of Business and Management

The global impact from the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States in 2001 and the subsequent unforeseen terrorism has affected the world tourism industry (Hamarneh & Steiner, 2004). These unexpected events have had a significant impact on the travelling mood of international tourists particularly the Arabs from the Gulf region and Muslim communities. The Arabs and the Muslim communities have been blamed for being responsible for terrorism. Consequently, the feeling by Arabs of being misunderstood and unwelcome in non-Muslim countries has increased. The travelling policy against the Arab tourists has become more rigid in many countries especially in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and European nations. Over-reactions, ignorance and chauvinism in those countries have forced many Arabs tourists to look for new frontiers and change their traditional holiday destinations to other countries (Hamarneh & Steiner, 2004). As a result, Malaysia as well as other Asian countries was found to be one of the favourite alternative vacation destinations for the Arabs. Malaysia as a Muslim country shares a common Islamic culture and tradition and the Muslim Arabs feel safer in terms of security, food, shopping and religious...
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