Domestic tourism may bounce back earlier than anticipated

Matta Fair is back this year from Nov 20-21 at the World Trade Centre Kuala Lumpur


MALAYSIAN Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) secretary general Nigel Wong expects domestic tourism to pick up much faster than originally anticipated as more people become confident in travelling especially since the vaccination rates are up and cases are low.

“The recent tourism bubble in Langkawi has proven that there is pent-up demand for travel which is extending as some form of normalcy resumes.

“We do foresee however that given the current situation as borders start to open up and as travel restrictions are relaxed, we may actually see more international travel, perhaps beginning with intra-Asean travel given its short distance and later on to destinations that are much further,” he said.

On the industry’s recovery to pre-pandemic level, Wong said they are hoping that recovery will come a lot sooner than in 2025 according to consensus and are already looking forward to more border reopening in 2022.

“The United Nations World Tourism Organisation and many experts predicted that pre-pandemic level will only be back in 2025. However, we see that there is a concerted push by governments all over the world,” he added.

Matta Fair is back this year from Nov 20-21 at the World Trade Centre (formerly known as PWTC) Kuala Lumpur. Matta said it is expecting good response and turnover as there has been a lot of demand for such a fair to come back since domestic travel was reinstated.

“In 2020, before the Covid-19 pandemic hit us, we had plans for the Matta Fair Cuti-Cuti Malaysia in April which unfortunately had to be deferred. At that time, we were looking at around 25,000 visitors for the two-day event. Currently for this fair, we hope to reach the same number of visitors,” said CEO Phua Tai Neng (picture) in a virtual press conference yesterday.

He highlighted that the upcoming 49th edition of the event will be different as it is a much smaller version when compared to previous years, with over 250 booths occupying 7550 sqm of floor space with two halls and in strict compliance to all the government’s standard operating procedures (SOPs).

Phua said Hall 3 is where most of the international tourism players are, while Hall 4 is where nearly all state tourism organisations and domestic travel, and tourism products will be.

“This Matta Fair will only allow visitors that are fully vaccinated and wearing face masks at all times. They need to physically distance themselves in the halls and these requirements are also for exhibitors’ staff and visitors,” he said.

The association said that it would help exhibitors by providing about 50% discount in the cost for booth rental due to its members and other tourism stakeholders having suffered greatly for the past 21 months during the pandemic.

So far, the fair has received strong support with participation from almost all state tourism organisations, namely Sabah, Terengganu, Sarawak, Pahang, Selangor, Johor, Kedah, Perak and Negeri Sembilan.

Besides Tourism Malaysia that will be taking 30 booths, international tourism organisations will also be present to promote their markets, namely from Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, Japan, Turkey and Uganda.

Matta will be collaborating with official partners Legoland Malaysia Resort as its theme park partner and licensed e-hailing transportation app company Gojo as e-hailing partner, among other partners.

With 200,000 apps users and 7000 bookings daily, visitors can choose Gojo to come to the fair. Additionally, Gojo is giving a 10% discount to visitors using the app and car.

“The Matta Fair is a significant indicator to the people that the tourism industry is back and will gradually be revived for people to travel domestically and very soon internationally, as borders will eventually reopen with safe travel protocols,” it said.