Kent C. K. Chow, Golden Deluxe Travel Service Agency Sdn Bhd managing director
Every year, the Matta Fair generates good response because the airlines would give special airfare rates - the difference in airfare is at least RM200 – and we can package very good deals for the consumers. With tours priced so low, such as RM888 for Hong Kong, travelling to regional destinations is almost the same travelling domestic.
The response for the fair is better this year compared with last year. Today is only the first day and a working day too, and already there's such a big crowd. The crowd would definitely be bigger tomorrow. Look at the sales we've already closed (points to a stack of documents) and it's only 2pm.
I don't see the travellers really affected by the talks of war. Maybe because the talk had been on since last year, people are getting used to it. Our company is not affected by the war talk either because we are doing mainly Asian tours. South-East Asia and Asian tours are still selling very well, especially tours to China; they're selling like hot cakes. We're among the top 10 agents for the Singapore Airlines. Our company turnover averages about RM2mil a month.
Everyone wants to relax and travel. Many people say the economy may be bad this year but I believe there's still a bigmarket for tour packages below RM2,000.
Mike Martin and Brian Kendall
We've been in Malaysia since August. We'd visited Malaysia a few times before and we really liked the country. So when we retired, we came from Britain to live here. It's cheaper, warmer, and we like the multicultural society. And it's safer here than in Britain; we can walk alone at night and have no problem. Now, we're using Malaysia as a base to visit the region. We're here to find good deals for regional destinations, as well as flight tickets back to Britain to visit our friends and relatives.
Jason Lim, Golden Tourworld Travel (M) Sdn Bhd managing director
Consumers are the Matta fair. They come prepared to enquire and buy. The fair also gives a big impact on our sales for the next six months – we're basically selling for the April-October period.
The demand for leisure travel is still strong, especially short breaks of five to nine days. Travelling has become a habit for Malaysia nowadays. If war breaks, there might be slight deferment of the date of departure but they'll still go this year.
We see increasing demand for Oriental destinations - South Korea, Japan and Taiwan. Taiwan had recently relaxed its visa requirements to 30 days. And China has been a favourite since it was opened to tourism.
The demand for European destinations is still there. Malaysians used to go to Europe for 10 days and cover five to six countries. In the past two years, a lot of people are opting to go to just one or two countries over the same period. Thus, we've widened our range to include more variety in our packages. The US has not been a popular destination because it has been hard to get a visa.
The Middle Eastern countries, such as Dubai, Beirut, Syria and Turkey, are still popular among Malaysians. The enquiry is still strong though there are some concerns about the possible Gulf war.
Tan Sri M. Mahalingam, former Human Resource Deputy Minister
The Matta fair gives very good deals; you can save more than RM1,000 per person. My wife and I just came back from a trip to Europe – we bought the tickets from the previous Matta Fair. With our children all grown up and married, we're travelling a lot. We want to visit Eastern Europe next.
The fair gives us the opportunity to not only purchase discounted tickets, but also to discover where the travel agencies are willing to take us. I saw a tour to somewhere near the North Pole to see the midnight sun. I didn't know of such tours before this. The fair encourages the ordinary people to know where they can visit and give good value for their destinations.
Calvin Ho, Bestour & Travel (M) Sdn Bhd marketing director
Our travel industry is on a smooth course. This year is sure to be better than last year. The talk about war had direct effect on the stock market but not directly on the tourism market, yet. Maybe we Asians think it's more an American and European thing, and it's not for us to be worried (about).
Our company generates RM50mil turnover a year. The Matta Fair normally brings us 2,000-3,000 customers. We've had almost 500 people today, the first day. We do mainly Asian destinations, such as China, South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong. The prices for regional destinations are so low, it beats going to Europe and the Americas – it fits the family budget better. You need RM4,000-RM5,000 to go to Europe or America but for RM1,388, you can go to China. The family wants to travel every year; the question is where. For the amount you would spend to go to Europe or America for one person, you can bring the whole family to China.
Elaine Chen, Mayflower Travel Shoppe
The Matta fair is a good place to get discounted tickets. When you travel with a family, you save a lot. Before the fair started, people were already queuing outside. They don't seem to be worried, despite the talk of a possible war. They're coming by the droves. And we're optimistic of generating lots of sales in the next few days. We're optimistic of the performance of the travel industry this year.
We see a trend of people opting to take individual, or free and easy, packages instead of tour packages. Travellers, especially the younger generation, now prefer to do things at their own pace than follow a tour schedule.
Did you find this article insightful?