PENANG tour and travel agencies have been urged to promote inbound tourism.
State Tourism, Arts, Culture and Heritage (PETACH) Committee chairman Yeoh Soon Hin said his office would be introducing an incentive programme soon for agencies actively promoting inbound tourism to further boost the state’s economy.
“I would like to encourage them to focus on inbound tourism instead of outbound tourism,” Yeoh said in his speech at the official opening of the Malaysian Association of Tour & Travel Agents (MATTA) Penang Chapter new office at Menara BHL in Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah today.
“Currently, a consultant is working with stakeholders on holding a tourism forum in November while at the same time fine tuning the Penang Tourism Master Plan which should ready by December.”
Yeoh is optimistic that Penang, which launched its Experience Penang 2020 in June, would play a key role in the country’s aim of drawing 30 million tourists in Visit Malaysia 2020.
Yeoh and MATTA president Datuk Tan Kok Liang marked the opening of the new office by signing on the plaque in the 2,000sq ft facility located on the 13th floor of Menara BHL.
This was the third new location for the MATTA Penang Chapter office, having first relocated from Pulau Tikus to Tanjung Tokong.
“I was told that this office is comparably bigger than the old premises to better meet the needs for expansion in Penang,” Yeoh said in his speech.
“MATTA’s new premises here is a good platform to provide a ‘home’ to gather its members and associates, for conducting meeting, training, products launching, as well as events updates.
“MATTA plays an important role for travel agents and tourism events, inbound and outbound, and also in engaging with the government authorities on tourism related matters.
“Tourism is undoubtedly a very important industry to Penang which has brought tremendous growth and development over the years. It’s an important generator for Penang economy, overtaking manufacturing.”
Yeoh said about 300 exhibitors would take part in the MATTA Fair in Penang from tomorrow (Oct 11) to Sunday (Oct 13) at the SETIA Spice Arena in Bayan Baru.
Tan said it was yet another exciting chapter for MATTA as its new office in Penang, bought at RM800,000, was its 12th in the country.
“In this new office, we are equipped with better facilities and space to facilitate members training workshops and provide MATTA Penang Chapter Committee and Secretariat a better working environment to serve members.
“The tour and travel industry in Malaysia has been subject to a great many changes forcing travel agents to adapt to rapidly evolving conditions.
“MATTA has endeavoured to do what it was built to do; level the playing field and ensure that our members have the opportunities to expand and grow their businesses.
“Today, MATTA membership is at an all-time high in history, at more than 3,600 companies and growing. This indicates that MATTA is being the preferred organisation for the travel industry.
“Our mission is clear, that is to bring forth a business environment that is conducive so every member in the association can benefit from it.”
Tan said they foresee the development of the Tourism Industry Distribution & Booking Platform through MATTA Technologies Sdn Bhd to create more opportunities for members and stakeholders.
Formed in the early 2000s, the number of MATTA Penang Chapter members has grown to 215, an increase of 18% compared to 2010 with 179 members.
With the establishment of the new office, Tan said he hoped that the MATTA Penang Chapter would continue to grow to greater heights.
Also present at the official opening were Ministry of Tourism Penang director Jonathan Freddy, MATTA Penang Chapter chairman Vergis Mathews and MATTA honorary secretary-general Nigel Wong.
Story by K.H. Ong
Pix by Alissala Thian