Trade Shows and EventsMalaysia’s largest consumer travel fair is back with Sarawak at the helm.

Sarawak takes MATTA into own hands

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Sarawak Tourism Board’s CEO says the state will continue to eye domestic travel and eco-tourism as path to recovery.
Sarawak Tourism Board’s CEO says the state will continue to eye domestic travel and eco-tourism as path to recovery.

Sarawak will be taking up the mantle of Malaysia’s Favourite Destination for the third time at the MATTA Fair from April 9 to 10, organised by the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) at the World Trade Centre in Kuala Lumpur.

The Malaysian state, home to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Gunung Mulu National Park, will be taking up 21 booths of the 340 in total at the travel fair, the biggest contingent by far.

Speaking at a virtual press conference organised by MATTA, Sarawak Tourism Board’s CEO, Sharzede Datu Haji Salleh Askor, said that for 2022, the state will remain focused on pushing domestic tourism even though Malaysia’s borders will reopen to international travellers from 1 April.

She is confident that given Sarawak’s 570% increase in domestic visitor arrivals in January this year, compared to the same month in 2021, the state is poised to make a recovery based off local Malaysian tourists.

Sharzede added that Sarawak’s two intra-state campaigns had seen a take-up of 1,797 tour packages while 8,351 rooms had been booked for the first campaign. The Sia Sitok Sarawak PLUS campaign launched in collaboration with the Malaysia Aviation Group also served to further capture the West Malaysian and Sabahan markets.

In response to a question posed by from Travel Weekly Asia at the press conference, Sharzede said that the state is in talks on expanding its tourism marketing campaigns to target the international market, but nothing has been finalised yet.

“This year, together with our tourism industry players, we are going all out to promote Sarawak as a prime ecotourism destination. With air connectivity being one of the main keys to drive visitors into Sarawak, we will focus on increasing our direct airline connectivity to and from Sarawak," she said.

"Aside from that, we will also go beyond leisure travel where we will be focusing on medical and educational tourism which is in line with our Sarawak’s 15-year Tourism Master Plan."

The new state-of-the-art Borneo Cultures Museum will be a key attraction in Sarawak's tourism spectrum.
The new state-of-the-art Borneo Cultures Museum will be a key attraction in Sarawak's tourism spectrum.

Attractions the STB would be promoting include the new Borneo Cultures Museum, the largest in the country and second largest in Southeast Asia featuring immersive and interactive exhibits; the oldest Bidayuh village in the state; the tallest waters in the state, Julan Waterfall; their two famous international music festivals which will go hybrid this year; and the state's local cuisine from 28 ethnic groups as Kuching is the first city in Malaysia to be named by UNESCO as a creative city of gastronomy.

Sharzede noted that Scoot currently operates direct flights to Kuching and Miri, and while there were discussions about increasing frequency and direct flight options into Sarawak from both domestic and international airlines, Sharzede would leave that to the federal Transport Ministry to speak on.

The upcoming MATTA Fair will feature booths by 11 state tourism organisations and six national tourism organisations, with most exhibitors still focused on the promotion of domestic packages, according to MATTA honorary secretary general Faeez Fadhlillah.

MATTA is expecting to receive 15,000 to 20,000 visitors for the two-day travel fair, for which Malaysia Airlines is the official airline partner and Resorts World Genting the resorts partner.

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