Domestic tourism rebounds

M’sians keener to travel locally after the Covid-19 pandemic

KUALA LUMPUR: Travel locally is not only the new cool but has also significantly revived domestic and inbound tourism, driven creativity and brought new strategies, according to industry experts.

The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) said travellers have been keener to explore their backyard, especially after the Covid-19 pandemic.“

More Malaysians are viewing their own country through new lenses, resulting in a surge in creativity, particularly among 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 MATTA president Nigel Wong, who was speaking at the launch of the 54th edition of the MATTA Fair at the Malaysia International Trade and Exhibition Centre (Mitec) here yesterday.

The event was graced by the Regent of Perlis, Tuanku Syed Faizuddin Putra Jamalullail, and his consort, Raja Puan Muda of Perlis Tuanku Dr 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 showed that we need to embrace this paradigm shift if we are to ensure that our tourism sector will not only be sustainable but also flourish.

Kicking off the fair: Tuanku Syed Faizuddin (right) beating a gong to launch the 54th MATTA Fair at Mitec in Kuala Lumpur while Tuanku Dr Lailatul Shahreen and Wong (left) look on. — YAP CHEE HONG/The StarKicking off the fair: Tuanku Syed Faizuddin (right) beating a gong to launch the 54th MATTA Fair at Mitec in Kuala Lumpur while Tuanku Dr Lailatul Shahreen and Wong (left) look on. — YAP CHEE HONG/The Star

“One positive and significant trend to emerge post-pandemic is the uptake in domestic tourism,” he said.

Citing the example of Perlis, which is promoted as this fair’s Favourite Malaysian Destination, Wong said the fact that the state is a Unesco Geopark itself made it a “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, but rolling fields and national parks evoke a sense of going back to a time when life was simpler,” he said.

Perlis Geopark, spanning 1,001sq km, is situated at the tip of the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia; comprising 819sq km of land and 182sq km 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 is the globally recognised Satun Unesco Global Geopark, while the Langkawi Unesco Global Geopark is located to the west.

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

He added that each MATTA Fair in Mitec, covering some 37,000sq m of exhibition space and attracting nearly 150,000 visitors, averages a turnover of about RM300mil each edition.

“Out of that, RM90mil came from domestic tourism sales over three days,” he said.

In his opening speech, Tuanku Syed Faizuddin said Perlis is privileged to be highlighted as the Favourite Malaysian 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 support the positive increase in tourist numbers flowing in each day and exceeding four million visitors in 2023,” he said.

Tuanku Syed Faizuddin also called on all tourism players and state governments to redouble their efforts and cooperation to make thorough preparations for Visit Malaysia Year 2026.

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

Admission to the three-day MATTA Fair, which is open from 10am to 9pm until today, is free.

A free shuttle bus service is provided to visitors at two locations – KL Sentral and Sunway Putra Mall – that departs for Mitec every 10 minutes from 8am to 10pm.

In addition, a large dining space with a great variety of food is available to ensure Muslims can break their fast comfortably.

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