KUALA LUMPUR: While Malaysians and expatriates in the country continue to opt for domestic destinations, they have begun to go off the beaten track and head for newer terrain, according to the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA).
It also found that Malaysia remains the top draw among these travellers, followed by regional and international destinations such as Japan.
MATTA chief executive officer Phua Tai Neng said there are many Malaysians and expatriates who are taking the opportunity to explore the country.
“It helps that Malaysia offers a lot of new (tourism) products. Also, people are making use of long weekends to travel locally.
“And they no longer just visit places like Langkawi or Penang, they are going to new areas,” he told a press conference yesterday to announce the first of the biannual MATTA Fair at the Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) for this year, scheduled for March 16-18.
Phua said domestic travel has always been hot sellers at MATTA fairs.
Among the most popular these days are Negri Sembilan, Selangor, Johor, Kuala Lumpur, Perak and Pahang.
Besides Malaysia, other hot choices are Japan, China, Britain and South Korea.
The upcoming MATTA Fair will feature more than 1,300 booths offering a variety of domestic and international value-for-money travel packages.
This year’s event will see 1,324 booths in seven halls at PWTC and of that, 1,027 will be taken up by international exhibitors, 237 domestic exhibitors and 60 featuring umrah packages.
MATTA honorary secretary-general Nigel Wong said it has been – and will always be – Malaysia’s largest travel fair.
“During last September’s fair, we recorded a sales turnover in excess of RM205mil. We have consistently attracted 100,000 visitors to the fair over the last couple of years,” he said.
Wong revealed that Japan is “Asia’s Favourite Destination” for this MATTA Fair, adding that there will be exciting deals in store for holidaymakers.
“Many Malaysians visit Japan to experience ecotourism and life on the outskirts,” he said.
Phua said Japan has seen an increase in tourists from Malaysia since the nation lifted the visa requirement for Malaysians.
“It has also put in a lot of resources to encourage Muslims from Malaysia and the region to travel there so it is seeing good growth from Muslim and non-Muslim communities,” he added.
MATTA has also partnered with Malaysia Airlines as the official airline.
Other official partners include Desaru Coast, Legoland Malaysia Resort, Royal Caribbean International and Merchantrade Asia.
Visitors are encouraged to take public transportation to avoid traffic and parking challenges.
The fair is open from 10am to 9pm and admission is RM4 per person and free for children aged below 12.
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