Biggest MATTA Travel Fair opens to strong travel demand

14 March 2003

KUALA LUMPUR - The 15th MATTA International Travel Fair (MITF) opens this morning with a record of 973 booths and 250 exhibitors from 20 countries, spread over 17,121sqm of exhibition space in five halls at the Putra World Trade Centre.

Organising chairman, Ronald Chan, proudly proclaimed this year’s show as the biggest in the fair's 13 years’ history. And this was not a mere boast as the Malaysia Book of Records listed it as “the largest international travel fair held in Malaysia” as soon as the formalities of the opening ceremony was over.

The size of the show is a reflection of the strong travel demand by Malaysians, obvious from the throngs of people at the ticket counters even as the official opening ceremony was going on this morning.

Malaysia Deputy Minister of Culture, Arts and Tourism Dato’ Dr Ng Yen Yen, who officiated at this morning’s ceremony, said the response from the exhibitors and from the consumers was an indication that outbound travel and domestic tourism are still very strong, despite all the forebodings of war.

“It also shows that visiting travel fairs and travelling, both domestically and overseas, are now an integral part of the Malaysian culture.”

A tour by TravelWeekly of the fair showed the largest crowd at Malaysia Airlines, where long queues were seen at all the 60 booths occupied by the national carrier. The airline is offering discounts of between 30 percent and 50 percent on economy class tickets on selected international flights. This is a strategy by MAS to encourage people to travel amid fears of an Iraq war.

There was also a big crowd at the Australia pavilion, which occupies 30 booths manned by the various state national tourist organisations.

The other clear winners are China and Singapore Airlines; the latter recently launched its own brand of tour products, SIA Holidays, for the Malaysian market.

Korea and Japan are making a comeback as the tour prices are now more affordable. There is a lot of interest in the new destinations, such as Inner Mongolia, Egypt, Dubai and Nepal.

MITF’s organiser, the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents, projects 100,000 visitors for the three-day show, with an estimated sales turnover of RM150 million (US$39.47 million). From this morning’s turnout, the projected figures could well be much higher.

MITF will be on until Sunday.

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