THOUSANDS of visitors flocked to the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) Fair, searching for the best deals for destinations that slaked their wanderlust.
Targeting 100,000 visitors for the three-day fair that began on Sept 3, MATTA president Hamzah Rahmat said there were 20,000 visitors on the first day alone, followed by 35,000 on the second day.
“Compared to last September, there were 80,000 visitors and this March, there were around 90,000,” he revealed on the last day of the fair.
“Domestic sale prices have not been affected despite the GST and domestic destinations are selling like hotcakes now, not because of anything else but our promotions.
“This is where I believe MATTA has met our objectives to promote domestic travel.
“Starting from two years ago, we have had the Mentri Besar of different states to officiate the fair, raising the profile of the states and improving domestic tourism at the same time,” he said.
He added that in terms of domestic travel for the September fair, Sabah had been heavily featured, with Johor and possibly Terengganu being featured in the coming year.
“The states have realised that this is one of the platforms where they can encourage people to look at domestic tourism.
“So I believe MATTA fair’s contributions and efforts in promoting domestic tourism have been successful, with visible results,” he said.
In addition to introducing the varying Malaysian landscapes the states have to offer, there were international booths with a whole host of deals and attractions which beckoned visitors to stop and take a peek.
One such booth was by Indonesia, going all out in the presentation of their country’s leisurely, adventurous and mystical cities.
“I think they have easily spent around RM800,000 for their participation in MATTA fair this time around, engaging the industry even before the start of the fair,” added Hamzah.+
Flying in cultural shows and even coffee beans for tasting, Indonesia’s Tourism Ministry Office representative Nurdiansyah said the country was showcasing what it had to offer.
“We have had batik demonstrations to show our different cultures in the country and have brought in a mixture of modern and traditional music,” he said, proudly adding that the booth attendants were dressed in batik uniforms traditional to their states.
“Our sales for this year have also increased compared to the period between January and July of last year.
Handing out sweet little treats with bits of Turkish Delight and baklava as well as having traditional dancers on hand was but a few ways the Turkey booth, marked as “Europe’s Favourite Destination”, tempted crowds.
“There seems to be fewer people at the MATTA fair this year,” said Turkish Embassy Tourism and Information Office culture and tourism counsellor Kaan Yilmaz.
“And yet, a lot of people still showed interest in finding out more about Turkey, especially historical Istanbul, which is also known as a shopping haven,” he said.
It was also the first year Taipei had a separate booth from Taiwan. The booth emphasised the city’s rich heritage, serene nature parks as well as its growing quirky popularity as a destination for wedding photo shoots combined with miniature holidays, one of the many emerging travel trends found at the fair.
YVONNE T. NATHAN