CAR dealer company director A. Krishnan was among the early birds who signed up for a seven-day Europe tour package at the Penang Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) Fair, which is back after a three- year hiatus.
Krishnan, 54, said he would be travelling with his wife, two daughters, brother-in-law, sister-in-law and their son in November.
“This will be our first time to Europe and it’s a trip to celebrate Deepavali as a family together,” he said at the three-day fair which started yesterday at the Straits Quay Convention Centre in Tanjung Tokong, Penang.
“We love travelling a lot and our holiday plans are usually made on the spot, like today,” he quipped.
Visitors were spotted surveying for the best travel deals at various booths at the fair.
In his opening speech, MATTA president Datuk Hamzah Rahmat said Penang was one of the major tourism hubs in the region as it served as a getaway for northern Perak, Perlis, Kedah and Kelantan, as well as northern Sumatra and southern Thailand.
“Therefore, the potential of Penang MATTA Fair is huge and international.
“MATTA Fair, the biggest and greatest travel consumer fairs in Malaysia simply cannot stay away from Penang.
Hamzah said travel and tour operators were the master developers of the tourism industry.
They put together the various services offered by airlines, road and rail operators, hotels and restaurants, shops and entertainment outlets, theme parks and attractions and more into an attractive and convenient package.
“The spillover from a booming tourism sector benefits many other industries.
Hamzah said tourism was also a two-way trade, where Malaysians travelling overseas could help to attract more visitors to the country.
Later at a press conference, Hamzah said MATTA Fair was not just outbound, but also domestic.
“We are also promoting regional Asean as well, so that is what MATTA Fair is all about.
“We also have umrah packages, and with what is happening now, we have been hearing a lot of complaints about cheating cases in umrah packages.
“You will find that we have quite a few numbers of umrah big players participating, so I hope the intended pilgrims will get their packages from these registered travel agents, our MATTA members, so this will help to eliminate all these cheating cases,” added Hamzah.
The fair is open from 10am to 9pm daily and admission is free.
Some 15,000 people are expected to attend the event featuring 118 booths taken up by 41 agencies.
Besides participants from hotels, resorts and theme parks, tour and travel agents, other exhibitors include Tourism Pahang, Tourism Malacca, Tourism Penang, Tourism Johor and the Macau Government Tourism Office.