Malaysia turns to the domestic market

KUALA LUMPUR, 12 February 2020: Malaysia will host a brand new travel fair, 4 to 5 April, to promote domestic tourism as well as attract travellers from ASEAN neighbours, the Malaysia Association of Tour and Travel Agents announced at a press conference Tuesday.

MATTA president, Datuk Tan Kok, said the MATTA Fair Cuti Cuti Malaysia’ would serve as the “best testament that Malaysia is safe and secure.”

Partners Tourism Malaysia and Malaysia Airlines attended the launch press conference for the fair that will be hosted at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre.

Confirming massive booking cancellations from the Chinese markets over the last month the MATTA president said the show would contribute to recovery after the Chinese market collapsed.  The show will promote domestic tour packages and encourage corporations to host incentives and events in the country,

Acknowledging that ASEAN neighbours supply 69% of all the tourist arrivals to Malaysia, the association president said the show would welcome travel agents from Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam to boost package sales from these markets to Malaysia.

Around 200 exhibitors are expected to buy booth space at the show and are encouraged to showcase discounted domestic holiday packages to compensate for the drop in travel from China.

“We are offering heavy discounts for exhibitors to attend,” he told the media, noting that the show would try to generate package sales to replace the shortfall from China.

Booth space will be discounted from MYR3,500 (charged for the twice-annual MATTA Fair) to around MYR2,000 for the new show representing a 40% discount.

“We will lose money on the MATTA Fair Cuti Cuti, but the objective is to promote new packages and show Malaysia is a safe and secure destination.”

He estimated package sales could reach  MYR20 million during the two-day fair, about half of the revenue earned by the  MATTA Fair that has been postponed until 1 May. The MATTA Fair focuses mainly on selling outbound travel to Malaysian travellers as well as domestic packages.

Hitting out at social media news, Tan said inaccurate information on social media “spread at a faster rate than the coronavirus”.

China’s outbound market that supplies around 20% of all visits to Malaysia closed down after China suspended outbound travel sales. In addition, Malaysia’s travel agents reported bookings cancelled from other markets worldwide.

MATTA has presented a proposal to the government to provide financial incentives to assist the country’s tourism industry weather the coronavirus storm.

It has asked for a review of the tourism tax rate and presented other recovery measures such as income tax rebates to encourage Malaysia’s to book domestic holidays.

It has also suggested the government reduce or waive contributions and taxes such as those mandatory for the Employees Provident Fund, Human Resources Development Fund, tourism tax, road tax, and fees for various company licences and vehicle permits.

Tan said the proposal requests financial institutions to offer special loans, reduce interest rates or allow deferment in loans repayment as tour buses are idled more often than running.

MATTA, with key industry stakeholders, has held a series of meetings with the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry, Health Ministry and Tourism Malaysia to come up with strategies to tackle the sudden and significant drop in travel to Malaysia.

The meetings resulted in MATTA proposing recovery measures designed to encourage more tourists to choose Malaysia as a preferred holiday destination.

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