The national-level Malaysian Association of Tour & Travel Agents (MATTA) annual dinner was held on Saturday, July 7 at WEIL Hotel with Menteri Besar, Ahmad Faizal Azumu as the guest of honour.

The lively affair featured notable emcee, KT Pillai in a flight captain garb, live band Metromob equipped with powerful vocals from Kuala Lumpur and lucky draw giving away hotel stays and flight tickets to as far as Brisbane. Beforehand, there was an exhibition outside the hall promoting Perak’s iconic tourist spots, food and beverage.

Running on the colour theme of silver, the best dressed including seniors sporting silver manes proudly were honoured.

“According to the Domestic Tourism Survey by the Department of Statistics Malaysia, Perak received 20.1 million domestic tourists in 2017 compared to 16.8 million in 2016, earning the position as the second highest state with most domestic tourists in 2017,” stated Faizal.

“We had 2.6 million passengers who visited Perak using the railway services from January to October in 2017, an impressive jump of about 10 per cent compared to corresponding period in 2016,” he explained.

He announced that the administration has identified several heritage buildings that have the potential to be turned into new products for the heritage-tourism niche. For example, the state government is holding talks with the Railways Assets Corporation (RAC) to identify problems faced by the RAC in a bid to develop some of RAC assets as tourism destinations in the state.

“We have identified several RAC assets such as the Victoria Bridge, the Ipoh Train Station where the Majestic Hotel is located and some of its other properties could be upgraded as tourist attractions. The Majestic Hotel for example, has the potential to be turned into a tourist attraction as local and foreign visitors use the train services to come to Ipoh but it is disheartening that the building is being left in a dilapidated state,” Faizal, who was born and bred in Ipoh, added.

“MATTA is the national travel association with about 3200 members specialising in the inbound promotions to Malaysia. As tour operators, we also go into outbound because we believe that tourism is a two-way flow. We are also involved in air transportation, ground transportation, research, education and training. We are establishing a MATTA Technologies Sdn Bhd which is hoped to provide better online rates for members and give some competition to foreign online booking engines,” highlighted Datuk Tan Kok Liang, President of MATTA.

“For the second time in the 43-year history of MATTA, we have chosen Ipoh to be the host of the national, annual general meeting,” Tan, a Taiping boy, said. 

Mei Kuan