KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) Fair March 2023 held at the Malaysia International Trade and Exhibition Centre (MITEC) here has attracted over 180,000 consumers over the course of three days, revealed MATTA.
The fair was held from March 17-19.
MATTA president Datuk Tan Kok Liang said that the latest edition of the MATTA Fair, which consisted of 1,416 booths and covered 39,000 sq m of exhibition space, was officially recognised by the Malaysia Book of Records as the Largest International Travel Fair.
There were 19 National Tourism Organisations (NTO), 13 State Tourism Organisations (STO) and over 220 exhibitors at the fair.
The existence of numerous new and upcoming destinations such as Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Uganda, Kyrgyzstan and Zimbabwe has increased Malaysia's relevance as a significant tourism market.
Total sales turnover was slightly over RM300mil, with domestic sales alone accounting for RM34mil.
Average spending per customer increased across all tourism verticals, demonstrating that there was still plenty of pent-up demand for travel and that consumers remained confident in their spending despite the global economic downturn.
“We are overjoyed because this 52nd edition, which is also our first at MITEC, has surpassed previous records in terms of capacity, visitor turnout, and sales recorded.
“We did this by venturing outside of our comfort zone to take up a much larger venue and by overcoming numerous obstacles to meet the expectations of exhibitors and visitors.
“The last MATTA Fair, held in September 2022 at the World Trade Centre, had over 43,000 visitors and featured 536 booths,” Tan shared.
Tan added: “We sincerely apologise for the major traffic bottlenecks that occurred throughout the three-day exhibition especially our valued visitors, many of whom had to wait for hours to enter or exit the venue.
“We are working with the relevant government agencies to mitigate this issue for the upcoming September fair.
“To that end we have already had preliminary meetings with our venue partner MITEC to identify potential solutions including better traffic control and specially designated lanes for public transportation.”
Tan advised visitors and exhibitors to use public transportation or park their cars at Sunway Putra Mall and/or KL Sentral and to take advantage of the free shuttle service provided at Sunway Putra Mall or KL Sentral for future MATTA Fairs.
“The enormous success reflects Malaysians' increased desire to travel both domestically and internationally.
“Travel continues to enrich our lives and is going to continue so in the future. Travel is a way of life for Malaysians. However, today's vacationers are budget conscious and seek value-for-money packages” Tan elaborated.
He explained, “The MATTA Fair has long been viewed as a reliable indicator of the health of Malaysia's tourism industry.
“The excellent outcomes of this fair are an important indicator that travel and tourism are in the last stages of recovery.
“The event has also highlighted the importance of domestic tourism. The participation of state tourism boards, particularly Perak at this event, demonstrates their commitment toward creating a more sustainable and robust tourism economy.”
Feedback from exhibitors indicated that for the domestic sector, Sabah, Terengganu and Kedah were the top three destinations as consumers prefer to buy packages due to logistics factors.
Korea, Japan and Vietnam topped the list for Far East Asia. For the long-haul sector, European countries such as the United Kingdom, Switzerland, and Italy remained the top destination, followed by Turkiye.
Buyers’ Contest data placed Malaysia at the top of the list of the top 10 destinations followed by Singapore, Japan, Vietnam, South Korea, Taiwan, China, Thailand, the United Kingdom and Indonesia.
Data also indicated that travel packages from over 75 international destinations covering the North Americas, Africa, Europe, Asia and Australia were also purchased during the fair.
Key cities for international air ticket bookings were London, Melbourne, Osaka, Narita, Bangkok, Incheon, Sydney and Bali driven by attractive air fares.
"The MATTA Fair provides consumers with the opportunity to purchase directly from licensed travel agencies and tour operators - this is also an indicator that the travel agency and tour operator business is not only sustainable but highly relevant in today's modern world," Tan highlighted.
"Tourism remains one of the highest and most sustainable sources of income for our nation. The government needs to take greater initiative to ensure the industry's continued growth.
“This will include a revision of our visa and immigration policies to make Malaysia more accessible and hospitable, tax exemptions and subsidies on tourism vehicles to improve our logistical capabilities, and the transformation of our Tourism Act so that local tourism stakeholders can maintain their competitive edge.
“Failure to safeguard the inbound tour operators could result in travel agencies shifting their focus to the outbound travel segment.”
“MATTA would like to acknowledge and thank all exhibitors, sponsors, visitors, and its organising chairman, Rocky Kho, for making this exhibition such a resounding success.
“The next MATTA Fair will be held at MITEC Kuala Lumpur from Sept 1 to 3. It is anticipated to be further enhanced and even larger with the China market making a strong comeback and with the resumption of more international flights directly to Malaysia,” Tan concluded.