I am most delighted to be here at the Opening Ceremony of the MATTA Fair Penang 2018. First of all, I would like to congratulate the organiser, the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA), for their efforts in once again putting together this MATTA Fair, which is Malaysia’s Largest Consumers’ Travel Fair, here at the Straits Quay Convention Centre, Penang.
This is a most impressive effort and should indeed be applauded as it is not easy to gather so many industry players and captains under one roof to promote tourism to both local and foreign consumers.
I am informed that a total of 48 tourism-related companies have participated. This is a great achievement and I wish to congratulate MATTA under the leadership of Datuk Tan Kok Liang for the resounding success.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Having the MATTA Fair here in Penang is wonderful as it gives an opportunity for Penangites to enjoy great deals and packages to local and foreign destinations. I am sure that many tour and travel agencies have designed very attractive holiday packages to fulfil the many different requirements of consumers.
I also know some airlines are offering massive discounts to many international destinations, making overseas holidays affordable to the masses. To paraphrase a famous airline slogan: Now everyone can travel – thanks to MATTA Fair.
At the same time, we will also learn about some of the latest offerings by various airlines, such as Malaysia Airlines’ latest Airbus 350-XWB which comes with Wi-Fi on board. Things are certainly looking interesting in the tourism industry, especially here in Penang as we are hot on the heels of the recent launch of daily Penang-Jakarta flights by Citilink.
Of course, earlier last month we also witnessed the start of Qatar Airway’s Penang-Doha route. This is significant as it gives Penang direct access to an important global aviation hub in Doha, from which we can fly to Europe, Middle East and many other places. As much as inbound tourism will increase from having these new routes, it also makes it easier for Penangites to travel internationally.
However, for those wishing to go on holiday, I would like to take this opportunity to issue a travel advisory: please try to plan your holidays from late May onwards and not before that. This is so that you do not miss a very important occasion that comes by only once every five years.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I understand that MATTA Fair Penang is targeting sales of RM20 million compared to RM17 million last year. I am sure it can be achieved. After all, the Penang economy is going strong, enjoying healthy growth and development over the last few years, especially in the tourism sector with the mushrooming of new hotels and increasing occupancy rates.
As you all know, our Penang International Airport has already surpassed its capacity expectations with 7.2 million passengers in 2017. We look forward to the promised expansion of the airport from the present capacity of 6.5 million passengers to 12 million passengers as announced in the Federal Budget last year.
Certainly, this is proof that Penang is fast becoming a location of choice for investors and tourists, not only in Malaysia but for the region as well. According to MIDA, Penang was the top FDI (foreign direct investment) recipient in Malaysia for 2017, with RM8.5 billion in approved manufacturing FDI. For total manufacturing investment, we recorded RM10.8 billion last year.
In terms of tourism tax collection, Penang was the third highest contributor from 1 September to 31 December 2017, collecting a total of RM3,881,544. Since 2008, Penang has regularly been listed as one of the top tourism destinations in the world by the likes of Yahoo! Travel, Lonely Planet Guide, The Guardian, LA Times, Forbes and many other respected publications.
Certainly, we have much to offer the world especially when it comes to our food, natural beauty and cultural heritage. One thing for sure, the Penang government will continue to promote Penang both domestically and internationally to ensure that we maintain our position as one of the top holiday destinations in Malaysia. For this we will need to collaborate and work together with MATTA and its members in putting together exciting tour packages promoting Penang tourism products.
Ladies and gentlemen,
As we are all aware, MATTA Fair is eagerly awaited by all Malaysians. I was told that the recent MATTA Fair in Kuala Lumpur attracted 110,000 visitors with a turnover of about RM210 million in sales. Under Datuk Tan’s leadership, MATTA has grown from strength to strength and is now not only a profitable venture but also one that has been a key driver of Malaysia’s travel industry. As I said earlier, now everyone can travel, and in our hectic pace of life these days it is important that we allocate some time and space for quality rest and relaxation.
To visitors of the MATTA Fair, I urge you to take advantage of the best price offers available for your holidays with friends and family. Also, do not forget my “travel advisory” earlier about planning your travel timing.
At the same time, I would also like to call upon all Penangites who travel abroad to also become our tourism ambassadors for Penang by promoting our state as a tourism destination. Tell people about our food, our festivals, our unique products. I do not think I need to elaborate, as I know every Penangite welcomes any opportunity to talk proudly about our beloved state.
On that note, on behalf of the Chief Minister of Penang, it gives me great pleasure to officially open the MATTA Fair Penang 2018.
NB: This speech was delivered on 30 March 2018 at the Straits Quay Convention Centre, Penang.