Wellness tourism in Malaysia received a boost with the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) and Association of Malaysian Spas (Amspa).
The collaboration, to promote and strengthen wellness tourism in the country, involves promotional programmes and activities leading up to Visit Malaysia 2020 and beyond, exchange of information, cooperation in capacity building as well as developing this area of tourism.
The MOU was signed by MATTA president Datuk Tan Kok Liang and Amspa president Datin Jeanette Tambakau, witnessed by Tourism Malaysia chairman Datuk Ahmad Shah Hussein Tambakau, corporate communication director Iskandar Mirza M. Yusof and MATTA deputy president Mohd Akil Mohd Yusoff.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Tan said the partnership would benefit members from both associations while growing the tourism industry in Malaysia.
“The potential of wellness tourism is immense and with the backing of Tourism Malaysia and our tour operators’ promotional activities, we can generate more awareness of the different wellness packages for travellers.
“Our country has much to offer, given our natural assets such as tropical forests, beautiful beaches and mountains, and we should capitalise on it.
“I believe by working together, we can unleash the potential of this emerging segment and make Malaysia’s wellness tourism on a par with other popular destinations such as Bali (Indonesia), Thailand and Switzerland.
“This partnership is also timely to support the Visit Malaysia 2020 campaign in attracting 30 million international tourists and RM100bil in tourist receipts,” he said.
Tan emphasised that wellness tourism was the fastest growing travel sector globally.
“Malaysia is listed in the top 10 wellness tourism markets in the Asia-Pacific with expenditure standing at US$5bil (RM20.5bil), and 8.3 million trips with a growing trend for wellness vacations and packages, especially to Malaysia.
“Among places that offer wellness-based services and activities in Malaysia are Chateau Wellness Resort in Pahang and Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat in Ipoh.
“There are also nature-based hot springs and waterfalls such as Poring Hot Springs in Sabah, Kota Tinggi Waterfall in Johor and Telaga Tujuh Waterfall in Langkawi,” he said, adding that visitors to the upcoming MATTA fairs could look forward to more wellness package offers.
The signing ceremony was held in conjunction with a business networking session by MATTA and Amspa at Concorde Hotel, Kuala Lumpur.
The one-day event saw the participation of more than 100 tour and travel agencies and spa operators gathered under one roof to connect and explore opportunities in wellness tourism.
“Malaysia being a multicultural country had developed a variety of spa techniques from different races, including Malay, Chinese, Indian, Peranakan as well as the indigenous people of Borneo.
“Additionally, wellness package can include spa treatments and therapies, healthy-eating and culinary events, fitness activities and adventures such as walking tours, hiking, paddling, yoga, educational programmes as well as an inspirational outing in nature.
“It can also include ‘voluntourism’ experiences as giving back increases one’s sense of well-being and is part of living a wellness lifestyle,” explained Jeanette.
Ahmad Shah applauded MATTA and Amspa for collaborating to help Tourism Malaysia promote the wellness industry.
“I look forward to seeing the many creative, healing, peaceful and restorative holiday packages that will come about from this partnership.
“To further propel Malaysia as a Wellness Destination, last year the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry launched our very own Malaysian Signature Massage – Urutan Malaysia.
“Apart from that, wellness tourism can help generate more jobs for the locals and invigorate the socio-economy of our country,” said Ahmad Shah.