SOME 80 buyers of Penang tourism products came to see what gems the state has to offer as a destination for business events and corporate trips.
They came from 11 countries namely China, Philippines, India, Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Myanmar, Azerbaijan, United States and the Middle East to attend the Penang International Travel Exchange (PITE) 2019 held recently.
Among them were travel agents D. Ajit, 40, and M. Yeshwant, 57, from Pune in India.
The duo, who were in Penang for the first time, said they were here to gain destination knowledge.
“We had no idea how Penang was until we touched down yesterday. It is so beautiful and amazing here.
“The infrastructure and the greenies here are fantastic, ” exclaimed Ajit.
As for Peng Shan from China who was also in Penang for the first time, she came to learn more about the state before bringing Chinese tourists here.
“I have been to Malaysia many times but this is my first time in Penang.
“We want to find out more about the delicious meals, beautiful hotels and tourist attractions here.
“After PITE, we will be visiting Ipoh and Langkawi too.
“People in Beijing love the sea and Penang will definitely be a new tourist spot for them.
“We hope to show Penang to our customers who have been visiting Malaysia through our high-end tours, ” she said.
PITE is an annual homegrown travel exchange to position Penang as the leading business events and leisure destination in the Asia Pacific.
It is organised by Penang-based Professional Conference Organiser (PCO) Apollo Conferences.
Buyers and the invited media are exposed to tourism products in Penang through business-to-business sessions and outdoor familiarisation trips with Penang’s tourism players.
State tourism, arts, culture and heritage exco Yeoh Soon Hin who launched the recent event and said Penang regards the tourism sector as an important engine for growth and economic development.
“The meetings, incentives, conventions, and exhibitions (MICE) industry has been shown to contribute to our economic growth several times more than leisure visitors.
“The business events sector in Penang achieved RM1.312bil in estimated economic impact from 2,733 events last year.
“PITE’s itinerary for the four days will be filled with a fair amount of outdoor familiarisation activities, which include site inspections to the attractions that make up Penang, ” he said at the opening ceremony of PITE 2019 at Setia SPICE Convention Centre recently.
Penang Convention and Exhibition Bureau (PCEB) chief executive officer Ashwin Gunasekeran said the event would feature two-day B2B sessions and half-day forums and gala events held across Penang’s attractions.
“We invited travel agencies, wedding planners, event organisers and sports event organisers from overseas to come and meet the tourism players in Penang such as hoteliers, product traders and local suppliers.
“PITE is a platform for both parties to meet and deal directly besides allowing homegrown traders to showcase their products to overseas markets.
“The 80 participants were filtered and chosen from 500 buyers worldwide who had expressed interest in the event.
“During the filtration process, we gave preference to first-time visitors to Penang, those who have businesses for Penang and also those with business affiliations in Penang and Malaysia, ” Gunasekeran said.
He added that there was an increase of between 11% and 13% in the Indian market, especially in cruise arrivals and combined destination packages after last year’s PITE.
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