MATTA Fair goes local in April

KUALA LUMPUR: A first-ever domestic version of the popular MATTA fair will be held in April to encourage local tourism following a decrease in tourist arrivals from China.

Billed as MATTA Fair Cuti-Cuti Malaysia, it will take place on April 4 and 5 at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre.

“Over 200 operators will offer various packages with great discounts during the inaugural exhibition, ” said Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) president Datuk Tan Kok Liang.

He said holidaymakers could expect a great variety of tour packages featuring new destinations.

“The local fair will focus on new and niche products that Malaysians may not be aware of, specially designed for those travelling as groups or family, as well as single and younger travellers who are more adventurous.

“We are working with our airlines and hotel partners to come up with deals combining more variety and cheaper fares and lodging for travellers, ” he told The Star yesterday.

He said some of the niche tours or packages would even allow travellers to get their hands dirty while enjoying the sights and sounds of the destination.

Tan made the announcement on MATTA Fair Cuti-Cuti Malaysia at a press conference yesterday.

With the current consumer sentiment, he said it was the best time to hold a new MATTA Fair exclusively for domestic tourism for service providers to switch focus from inbound to the domestic market.

“The government has taken the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of the virus in the country.

“Staging a successful local travel fair is the best testament that Malaysia is safe for all visitors, instead of being fixated on the negative and false news, causing fear that spreads faster than the virus, ” he added.

As the biannual Kuala Lumpur MATTA Fair had been deferred from March to May 1-3 in view of the novel coronavirus outbreak, the domestic travel fair is aimed at boosting the domestic tourism industry following the high number of tour cancellations.

Since the outbreak, Tan said more than 95,000 hotel room bookings had been cancelled, mostly by Chinese tourists, amounting to almost RM40mil in losses.

“As the previous MATTA fairs usually raked in between RM40mil and RM50mil in sales of domestic fares, MATTA is hoping to retain half of the figures with about 30 million travellers expected.

“Also, the tour packages offered during the local travel fair will appeal greatly to citizens of Asean countries, as South-East Asians cover 69% of foreign tourist arrivals to Malaysia, ” he added.

Calling on the government to hasten its implementation of a series of stimulus measures that were proposed by MATTA, Tan said the flexibility given to tourism industry players and workers in terms of taxes and statutory deductions would result in a positive chain effect.

“Many towns and cities in the country have become quiet. We need the government to act quickly to focus on measures to offset the adverse effects and also to work towards recovery, ” he said.