CruiseTalks with Costa Cruises and the Ministry of Tourism Arts and Culture already in place, says MATTA

Malaysia wants to make cruise restart dream a reality

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The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents is expectant that the cruise restart will also benefit the fly-cruise sector, bringing in more overseas visitors and revenue to the local economy. Photo Credit: Getty Images/Mario Eduardo Koufios Fraiz

Calls to restart the cruise sector are becoming louder in Asia.

After Hong Kong Tourism Board revealed that a cruise resumption plan is now in the works, industry players in Malaysia are urging for the restart of domestic cruises to revive the crisis-hit tourism sector.

Malaysia's Ministry of Transport is currently in active discussion with the National Security Council (MKN Majlis Keselamatan Negara) on SOPs for operating domestic cruises, according to the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA).

On its part, MATTA has also been working closely with industry partners such as Costa Cruises' regional office in Singapore and the Ministry of Tourism Arts and Culture to push for the revival of domestic cruises to aid the battered tourism sector.

The association noted that the cruise restart in Singapore has proven successful in providing much-needed stimulus to the local economy, while domestic cruises in the UK will also resume beginning May 17.

“MATTA has long recognised the immense potential of the cruise industry which benefits not only travel agencies but also hotels, the aviation sector, theme parks, attractions, retail and many other tourism-related industries," said Tan Kok Liang, MATTA president.

“A single ship, like the Costa Venezia, with a capacity of 5,000 passengers can generate revenue of up to RM60 million (US$15 million). In addition to that, domestic cruises, especially during these trying times, have the potential to generate thousands of jobs almost immediately especially in port cities like Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Langkawi and Melaka”, he added.

The implementation of domestic cruises is not just "quick-win solution during these trying times" but will also enhance Malaysia's recognition as "a homeport destination", MATTA honorary secretary general Nigel Wong remarked.

“We already have the necessary infrastructure and manpower in place to service this emerging and very profitable sector – the long-term benefits of having homeport status are immense especially since Malaysia is recognised worldwide as a very modern, and progressive Muslim-friendly destination.”

Such a move will also encourage the development of the fly-cruise sector, a tourists flying into Malaysia to embark on their cruise holiday are very likely to extend their stay in the country. "Needless to say, one can only imagine the untapped potential we have at our fingertips,” Wong stressed.

“We would like to commend both the Ministry of Tourism Arts and Culture and the Ministry of Transportation in their efforts to open up this industry – MATTA will continue to spearhead this effort and work closely with all relevant ministries to make this dream a reality."

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