Sabah will benefit from MATTA MoUs with European travel groups, says Liew

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah stands to gain from the spillover of a recent memorandum of understanding Malaysia signed with three European travel agencies in Berlin.

Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment minister Datuk Christina Liew said if more European visitors come to Malaysia, the state would also benefit.

She said the move by the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) would let Sabah tap into the European travel market, and pave the way for more Europeans to visit the state in particular.

"We look forward to a surge in the number of tourists and visitors from Finland, Poland and Estonia, among other destinations," she said.

Liew was part of the entourage from Malaysia to go to Berlin to witness the MoU signing with the Estonia, Finland and Poland tour and travel agency associations at the ITB Berlin travel and trade fair on Tuesday (March 7).

MATTA president Datuk Tan Kok Liang signed behalf of the association while Association of Finnish Travel Industry (SMAL) president Anne Marjut, Polish Chamber of Tourism (PIT) president Pawel Niewiadomski, and Estonian Travel and Tourism Association (ETFL) president Kulli Karing signed on behalf of their respective groups.

According to Tan, the memorandums, which place sustainable tourism as the centre of growth, focus on enhancing consumer awareness of Malaysia as a safe and attractive holiday destination to the Polish, Finnish and Estonian markets.

"This agreement builds on and deepens the existing collaboration with the organisations to stay geared towards restoring travel to consumers," he said.

"I am excited at the prospect of working very closely with our European counterparts to develop inbound travel potential into Malaysia," he said.

Tan said MATTA would come up with new marketing and communication strategies to meet the demand for high-value tourism products.

He said South-East Asia is inexpensive for European travellers, but costly and excessive fares and limited connectivity were the biggest obstacles for those planning to travel to the region.

"As such, we hope this renewed interest in Malaysia and the region will encourage airlines to establish more direct routes," he said.

MATTA, which has taken part in ITB Berlin since 2018, has negotiated several MoUs with counterparts from high-potential source markets, and was a member of the European Travel Agents’ and Tour Operators’ Associations (ECTAA).

"Our participation in ITB Berlin and our commitment to the European market strongly underlines our sustainable tourism strategy, which we believe will be key to the future of our nation, its people and our economy in the long term," Tan added.

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