Holiday abroad or 'Cuti cuti Malaysia'

TRAVEL BUG: The crowd at the Penang Matta Fair.

CATCH the beauty of autumn in Korea, hug a koala in Australia, walk on the Great Wall of China, admire the awesome Taj Mahal in India or simply cuti cuti Malaysia at the various holiday spots in the country. 

The choice is endless at the three-day Penang Matta Fair 2006 being held the Penang International Sports Arena (PISA) which offers travel packages to many parts of the world. 

The fair kicked off yesterday with the launching by Penang Tourism Development and Environment Committee chairman Teng Chang Yeow at 3pm after which it was opened to the public from 5pm to 9pm. 

OPENING ACT: Two mascots - a Koala and a Kangaroo - accompanying (from left) Matta president Ngiam Foon, Teng and Ann Tan for the opening ceremony.

It will be on from 10am to 9pm today and tomorrow. 

Some 50,000 people are expected to visit the fair over the three days. 

The opening ceremony performances started off with four talented children performing a violin piece followed by a Korean cultural dance courtesy of the Korea National Tourism Organisation that is an exhibitor at the fair. 

Dressed in identical pink and white Korean traditional costumes with extensively decorated hats, the four beautiful dancers swayed gracefully to the music while beating mini-drums. 

The crowd started to throng the concourse and arena of PISA as soon as the doors were opened at 5pm.  

While potential tourists were busy checking out the 280 booths in search of discounts and ‘cheap’ tour packages, roving clowns, some on stilts, surprised the children with funny tricks and colourful balloons. 

Some of the exhibitors had come up with ideas to attract visitors such as dressing their staff in colourful costumes and giving away freebies. 

Apart from being pampered with many attractive and reasonable tour fares, visitors who sign up for the packages also stand chances of winning prizes offered by some exhibitors, such as a bright red Perodua Myvi by Happy Holidays Sdn Bhd. 

Many visitors were also attracted to the Bukit Merah Laketown Resort booth as its staff brought along the resort’s two friendly ‘pets’ – a python and a huge iguana. 

A visitor, Koik Poh Suan, 34, said she was impressed with the “little tricks” exhibitors used to attract people to their booths. 

“It’s an interesting fair. Besides the wide choice of cheap deals and interesting fares, there are so many things to see here,” she said. 

Jordanian Mohamad Abdel Samei, 39, who is a first-timer at the Matta fair, happily bought packages to Langkawi, Bukit Merah and Cameron Highlands from a travel agent. 

“My wife and I are now studying in Penang and we are looking forward to touring Malaysia,” he smiled. 

Besides travel packages, hotel accommodation and air tickets, there are items on sale such as cameras, travel bags and winter clothing. 

Admission to the fair is RM2 per adult, inclusive of a goody bag while stocks last. The admission ticket entitles each visitor to a lucky draw with prizes such as air tickets and hotel stays. Entrance for children under 12 is free. 

The entertainment programme includes dances and Korean cultural shows. Matta gave out free copies of The Star yesterday.  

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