THE MATTA Fair Penang 2018 kicked off in Straits Quay Convention Centre with scores of visitors searching for the best travel deals.
With 46 exhibitors offering competitively-priced packages for almost every local and international destination imaginable, crowds were spoilt for choice yesterday.
Among those spotted at the Macao Government Tourism Offices booth were homemaker Nooryati Kamarudin, 58, and her husband Aleyes Meh, 65, who came from Kulim, Kedah.
“We’re looking for flights to London to visit our child who’s studying there. We often visit travel fairs to get the best deal.
Also making the trip from Kedah were retired couple Heng Kow Keah, 62, and Leong Yoke Fong, 59, of Sungai Petani.
They saw a write-up on the Ministry of Tourism of The Republic of Indonesia offerings in The Star on Wednesday, and came in search of ground tours for Surabaya and Mount Bromo.
“We got the flight tickets already. Having been to other parts of Indonesia like Medan and Bandung, this is another place our friends say we must visit.
“We prefer to book our tours at fairs like this as we can get more discounts and deal with reliable operators,” Heng pointed out.
At the official opening, MATTA president Datuk Tan Kok Liang said global tourism is booming like never before, with unprecedented numbers of international travellers propelling the industry to new heights.
“In 1990, tourist arrivals to the country numbered 7.4 million. This has risen to 26 million last year, with Penang alone recording 7.2 million arrivals.
“Malaysians also love to travel. The challenging economy has not deterred them. Rather than going long haul to international destinations, more are choosing to go to cheaper destinations locally or within this region,” he said.
Bukit Bendera MP Zairil Khir Johari, who was the guest of honour, said the fair’s vast offerings ensure different travellers would have their needs catered to.
“With the hectic pace of life today, it’s important to allocate some time to get away with the family. And here, one can do it affordably,” he said.
Zairil later witnessed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding for the Asia Pacific Masters Games 2018, which will be held in Penang from Sept 7 to 15.
The agreement – inked by Tan and Penang Asia-Pacific Masters Games Sdn Bhd director Datuk Danny Goon – will see MATTA helping to promote the event to inbound travellers as well as providing supporting tour services.
Tan also made a surprise revelation that an additional iPhone X will be given out in the Visitors Lucky Draw today, bringing the total to two units instead of one announced earlier.
One unit of the mobile phone is up for grabs tomorrow. To stand a chance of winning it, all one has to do is fill up a form at the entrance counter.
Meanwhile, holiday seekers spending over RM200 at the event get to enter the Buyers Contest which offers prizes worth in excess of RM80,000.
The grand prize is a 6D/4N trip for two to Hokkaido worth RM15,000. Also up for grabs are return air tickets, cruise holidays, hotel vouchers and theme park tickets.
Also present for the opening were Ministry of Tourism and Culture Malaysia Penang Office director Jonathan Freddy P. Bagang, Tourism Malaysia Northern Region deputy director Nooramanina Mohd Idris and Penang Global Tourism CEO Ooi Chok Yan.
The MATTA Fair Penang 2018 continues until tomorrow and is open from 10am to 9pm daily.