MORE than 25,000 people visited the just-concluded Matta International Travel Fair 2003 at the Penang International Sports Arena (Pisa) in Relau in Penang which raked in RM25mil in sales for both local and outbound holidays.
Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) Penang Chapter chairman Doreen Wong said the highest sales recorded during the three-day fair were for destinations such as Korea, Japan and Taiwan.
She said next was China, especially places like Shanghai and Kunming, followed by Australia, New Zealand, Europe and the United States.
“We were expecting a smaller crowd compared with last year, but surprisingly the turnout was great.
“Although the fair was open for less than four hours on the first day, we managed to draw about 5,000 visitors during that period.
“Over the weekend, the fair was open from morning until night and we recorded a huge turnout despite the fact that it was raining heavily on Saturday morning,” she said.
Wong said the great response could have been due to a combination of factors, including the good publicity and attractive gifts and offers.
“The people could not travel during the last few months because of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) scare. Now that the worst is over they are able to go on holidays, especially overseas,” she said.
She said another reason could be the anticipation. The fair was originally scheduled for June but the organisers decided in April to postpone it because of the SARS scare at that time.
The fair, which ended on Sunday, offered great bargains and freebies, especially for purchases of tour packages and air tickets.
Visitors also stood the chance to win return tickets to San Francisco and Paris in a special lucky draw where they were required to fill up the slip attached to the RM2 entrance ticket and drop it into the Matta box at the entrance.
Customers who signed up for outward-bound tours were also entitled to a draw offering 35,000 points under the Asia Miles travel reward programme, which was equi-valent to a return Penang-Hong Kong air ticket.
A total of 54 exhibitors took up 180 booths at the fair. Among them were the Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board, which was the biggest exhibitor with 20 booths, Hong Kong Tourism Board, Tourism Authority of Thai-land, South African High Commission, India Tourism, Macau Government Tourist Office, Western Australia Tourism Commission and Singapore Tourism Board (STB).
Tourism Malaysia’s domestic promotion division assistant director Mazreena Mohd Yusof said its 20 travel agents and hoteliers received en-couraging response to their Cuti-Cuti Malaysia holidays.
“Domestic tourism had become increasingly popular after the SARS scare ended,” she said.
Over at the Western Australia Tourism Commission booth, David Thorne of the Caversham Wildlife Park described the response as “beautiful”.
“We are here to support the travel agents who promote our country. In the tourism industry, you help each other,” he said.
SasMalaysia Tours and Travel Sdn Bhd sales and marketing manager Henry Lee said his company did very well at the fair.
He attributed this mainly to its Travel Master Let's go Europe promotion under Excellence Holidays Sdn Bhd, of which his company is an agent, which guaranteed the lowest prices around.
The promotion offered visitors to the fair a RM100 reward if they could purchase a similar tour at a lower price from other operators.
“Visitors can check with other travel agents at the fair and compare our prices with those that offer the same it inerary for the same standard,” he said.
Jatayu Airlines’ Penang district manager Gunarto Kristanto said the three-year-old airlines joined the fair to promote its flights as well as stay packages.
He said to date, the airlines covered Penang and Ipoh in Malaysia, and Banda Acheh, Medan, Batam, Pekan Baru, Pontianak, Balikpapan, Padang, Jakarta and Banjar-masin in Indonesia.