Travelling locally is the new trend for Malaysian tourists, says MATTA president


  • Nation
  • Saturday, 23 Mar 2024

From left: Nigel Wong, Regent of Perlis Tuanku Syed Faizuddin Putra Jamalullail and his consort Raja Puan Muda of Perlis Tuanku Hajah Lailatul Shahreen Akashah Khalil.

KUALA LUMPUR: Travel local is the new cool trend now, as more Malaysians are exploring their backyard extensively, says The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) president

Nigel Wong said travellers had been keener to explore local destinations, especially after the Covid-19 pandemic, creating new tourism ideas and attractions.

"More Malaysians are exploring their backyard extensively, viewing their own country through new lenses.

"This has resulted in a surge of creativity, especially amongst domestic and inbound tourism stakeholders.

"Even more encouraging is the refreshing enthusiasm demonstrated by many of our leaders in driving not only the conversation but also the execution of bold strategies that will elevate tourism within their territories, as well as nationally," said Wong at the launch of the 54th edition of the MATTA Fair at the Malaysia International Trade and Exhibition Centre (Mitec) here on Saturday (March 23).

The event was graced by the Regent of Perlis Tuanku Syed Faizuddin Putra Jamalullail and his consort Raja Puan Muda of Perlis Tuanku Hajah Lailatul Shahreen Akashah Khalil.

Also present were Deputy Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Khairul Firdaus Akbar Khan, Tourism Malaysia chairman Datuk Dr Yasmin Mahmood, Tourism Malaysia director-general Manoharan Periasamy, MATTA Fair organising chairman Datuk Tan Kok Liang, who is also Malaysia Tourism Federation president, and other dignitaries.

While the pandemic had changed the world, Wong said the changes were more obvious in some industries, such as travel and tourism.

"It has forced us to rethink and reimagine the way we travel, to grow up, to mature, to embrace the fact that we are inextricably connected globally.

"It also acknowledges that we must embrace this paradigm shift to ensure that our tourism sector, which Malaysians do very well, will be sustainable and thrive.

"One significant trend to emerge post-pandemic is the update in domestic tourism," he said.

Citing the example of Perlis, which is promoted as this fair’s Favorite Malaysian Destination, Wong said the fact that the state is a Unesco Geopark itself made it a "truly hidden gem in plain sight."

"It's not only famous for its harum manis mangoes, its unique and harmonious blend of Southern Thai and Malay cultures, its rolling fields and national parks - evokes a sense of returning to a time when life was simpler," he said.

Perlis Geopark, spanning 1,001 square kilometres, is at the tip of Peninsular Malaysia's west coast. It comprises 819 square kilometres of land and 182 square kilometres of coastal area.

Positioned in the northernmost part of the peninsula, the geopark borders Thailand to the north and Kedah state to the south.

Adjacent to Perlis Geopark was the globally recognised Satun Unesco Global Geopark, while to the west is the Langkawi Unesco Global Geopark.

Noting that transportation was a key driver of tourism, Wong said all must recognise and acknowledge that travel is a two-way street.

"Both public and private sectors must stop being inward-focused and push towards a more open environment, where both the inflow and outflow of tourists are encouraged and efficiently managed."

Calling on all stakeholders to come together and play their part in tourism promotion, Wong said the MATTA Fair, which has been held nationwide in almost every state, is still "the best way of promoting travel and tourism."

"Each MATTA Fair in Mitec covers some 37,000 square meters of exhibition space and attracts nearly 150,000 visitors, averaging a turnover of approximately RM300mil each edition.

"Out of that, RM90mil came from domestic tourism sales – all over three days," he said.

In his opening speech, Tuanku Syed Faizuddin said Perlis is privileged to be highlighted as "Malaysia's Favorite Destination" in this MATTA Fair.

"I hope that MATTA will further enhance the promotion of Perlis as a beautiful, peaceful and unique tourist destination.

"Please come to Perlis to discover its 'undeniable charm.'

"On that note, Perlis is also eager to see investments in having either four or five-star hotels, to support the positive increase in tourist numbers flowing in each day exceeding four million visitors in 2023," he said.

Tuanku Syed Faizuddin also called on all tourism players, including the state governments, to redouble their efforts and cooperation to thoroughly prepare for the upcoming Visit Malaysia Year 2026 campaign.

He said the campaign targets the arrival of 26.1 million foreign tourists and will bring optimal economic impact towards elevating the country as one of the major tourist destinations in the international market.

Admission into the MATTA Fair is free, and it was open from 10am to 9pm until Sunday (March 24).

To ease the convenience of visitors, free shuttle bus service is provided at two locations - KL Sentral and Sunway Putra Mall - that depart for Mitec every 10 minutes from 8am to 10pm.

Much larger spaces are dedicated to dining, and a greater variety of cuisines are also available to ensure that those fasting can break their fast in more comfort.

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