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MATTA expects GST removal to boost local tourism - May 26, 2018

The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) welcomes the Federal Government’s decision to have the Goods and Services Tax (GST) reduced from 6% to 0% effective June 1.Its president, Datuk Tan Kok Liang, said this indirectly granted a “discount” on the cost of local tour and travel.“The 0% GST is bound to promote spending by both locals and tourists, especially in terms of shopping as well as food and beverage, thus potentially increasing the price appeal of Malaysia as a travel destination.“Domestic air tickets between the peninsula and Sabah and Sarawak will be more affordable and will augur well for domestic tourism,” he said.

Meanwhile, on Transport Minister Anthony Loke’s call to improve road safety, bring the MH370 episode to a close and scrap the Land Public Transport Commission, Tan said all three issues were closely related to tourism, as safety and security of tourists were paramount in any destination and equally important to local residents.“We hope the minister will look into specific areas that could spur the growth or transformation of the air, marine, rail, and road transportation sectors.

“MATTA would be happy to offer our proposals and we look forward to such meetings, as antiquated laws need to be modernised and current regulations implemented more effectively,” he stressed Tan said MATTA was also calling for the abolishment of the Tourism Tax (TTx), which came into effect on Sept 1, 2017. The TTx imposes a flat rate of RM10 per room night on foreigners staying in hotels or registered private accommodation.

“We welcome tourists to have an enjoyable holiday experience and spend freely on accommodation, food and beverage, tourist attraction and tour excursion, but collecting tax from tourists would be counterproductive.“MATTA had objected to and expressed concerns over the TTx from day one, as it would impact the tourism industry, particularly price-sensitive tourists and long-haul travelers who spend extended periods in the country,” he pointed out.

Tan added that Malaysia’s tourism sector was trailing behind its neighbors Thailand, Singapore, and the Philippines. Although tourist arrivals to South-East Asian countries had recorded positive growth in 2017 – with a 7.8% increase for Thailand, Singapore (6.2%) and the Philippines (11%) – Malaysia saw a 3% drop with 25.95 million tourists in 2017 compared to 26.76 million in 2016.

“Putting up more barriers may deter tourists from choosing Malaysia as a preferred holiday destination.“Without the TTx, foreigners would be delighted to come to our country, stay longer and spend more freely,” he added.


Birdwatching for experts and novices - May 14, 2018

RAUB: Fraser’s Hill, which has been designated as an Important Bird Area (IBA), consistently attracts bird lovers during the Fraser’s Hill International Bird Race event. An annual event in the state’s tourism calendar since 1988, this year’s recently concluded edition was also one of the Revisit Pahang Truly Malaysia 2018 activities. Tourism Pahang general manager Datuk Ishak Mokhtar said the objective of the event was to preserve nature and promote Fraser’s Hill as a bird sanctuary.

“Even though there are other bird-watching destinations in the country, Fraser’s Hill is still a preferred destination.“This is because large species of mountain birds thrive comfortably in the most conducive habitats here and at certain times of the year, migratory birds make their presence felt, although briefly,” he said.For the event, all that is needed from participants are patience, basic skills and knowledge in bird watching as well as a high interest and love of nature.

Ishak said the procedures, as well as rules and regulation in the competition, were simple. Participants are given 24 hours to locate and view species of birds. The winners are decided by the most number of birds recorded.

The birds are found in every corner of the hill, even in the center of the small town, due to the undisturbed environment. Ishak said there were students who took part in the competition, proving that the event was not only for seasoned bird lovers but also for those who wanted to learn more about nature and the habitats of the numerous species of birds. The competition was divided into three distinct categories.

The advanced category was for the experienced birdwatchers who habitually return to Fraser’s Hill at every opportunity to do trial field runs. The novice category was for those who had just taken up birdwatching out of curiosity or as an academic hobby while the local category was for locals who know the whereabouts of the birds in Fraser’s Hill. The event was launched by Natural Resources and Environment Ministry secretary-general Datuk Seri Azizan Ahmad.

In his speech, Azizan said the competition was a way to create awareness among the public on the importance of environmental conservation.“The relatively undisturbed jungle and cool climate attract over 250 species of migratory and residential birds.“The migratory birds fly to Fraser’s Hill from as far as Northern Siberia and the islands in the north of Japan.

“They stop over here for a few months before flying south to New Zealand and Australia looking for warmer climate before making a reverse journey. Fraser’s Hill was designated as an IBA by BirdLife International. Fifty-two teams of three participants each took part in the event. International participants were from Hong Kong, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Cambodia and Sri Lanka while locals included those from higher learning institutions and primary schools.


Liow: Bentong to become satellite town of Greater KL - April 7, 2018

BENTONG: Bentong will be developed further to become a satellite town of Greater Kuala Lumpur, says Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai. The incumbent Bentong MP and Transport Minister has pledged to develop Bentong as a well-known eco-tourism destination. "As of now, we already have in place the Central Spine Road project, which will be completed next year.

"The double-track East Coast Rail Link will also have a station in Bentong, shortening the distance between Kuala Lumpur and Bentong to 25 minutes," he said at a family day at Taman Sri Siantan here Saturday morning. Spanning 411km, the toll-free Central Spine Road will connect Pahang to Kota Baru in Kelantan. With the ECRL, Liow said more visitors can make their way to Bentong and boost economic activities here for the benefit of the locals.

He also told the residents that he hopes Bentong will retain its lush environment, instead of being developed into another concrete jungle. On the Barisan Nasional manifesto to be revealed tonight, Liow urged all to watch to find out about Barisan's promises and plans for the next five years that would propel the country to greater heights.

He also announced an allocation of RM10,000 to the Rukun Tetangga of Taman Sri Siantan.


Liow: Pahang UTC has served 6.5 million people so far-April 15,2018

BENTONG: The Urban Transformation Centre (UTC) in Pahang has provided 6.5 million services to customers so far, says Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.The Bentong MP added that the 21 UTCs nationwide have served customers over 60 million times through the various government departments present at each centre."The UTC is an example of government projects with a people-centric concept under the National Blue Ocean Strategy (NBOS). The centres are open seven days a week, with extended hours," he said.

UTCs, which operate from 8am to 10pm, bring key government and private sector services under one roof, including the Immigration Department, Road Transport Department (JPJ) and National Registration Department.Liow, who is also MCA president, said this at the NBOS Fiesta Mesra Rakyat Pahang 2018 at Felda Mempaga here Sunday.He said he would put in an application to open a "mini UTC" in Bentong for the convenience of the rakyat.

The NBOS Fiesta attracted about 6,000 residents who learnt about the services provided and shop at the "My Best Buy" fair that offered agricultural products and food items at attractive prices.Among the NBOS projects in Bentong include special assistance for orang asli students and transforming the town into a tourism hub.


MATTA Fair targets RM210mil in sales - 18 March 2018

KUALA LUMPUR: The MATTA Fair March 2018 is expected to clinch more sales than the fair held in September last year, says the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA).

As many as 110,000 visitors with RM210mil in sales are expected for the current fair, said its president Datuk Tan Kok Liang during his speech at the fair opening ceremony at the Putra World Trade Centre here yesterday. Later at a press conference, Tan said the total sales for MATTA Fair September 2017 was about RM205mil. “Globally, the outbound tourism industry is expected to grow at 5% (a year). Considering the general election, which is coming soon, we expect to achieve RM210mil in sales,” he said.

The three-day fair, which began on Friday, is expected to be the biggest in its 27-year history. A total of 26,377 tickets were sold on the first day, according to Tan. In his speech, Tan said MATTA has started working towards Visit Malaysia Year 2020. “Foundations are being laid and we are looking into aggressive overseas promotion, hosting overseas travel agents to do packaging and online marketing to create awareness on local destinations,” he said. He said MATTA has set up its first MATTA Pavilion at ITB Berlin 2018, the world’s largest travel trade show to promote Malaysia on a global scale.

It will also engage in sales missions to China, India, Britain, and Europe, he said. Tan said MATTA is working closely with the Malaysia Association of Hotels and the National ICT Association of Malaysia to set up a technology platform for members to use and compete in the market. It has recently developed a collaborative framework with the Asso­ciation of Indonesian Tours and Travel Agencies to promote both countries as a single destination for long-haul markets. Discussions were also underway with Grab for it to integrate MATTA members’ vehicles into its services, he said.

Meanwhile, the Tourism and Culture Ministry is targeting 33 million tourist arrivals in 2018, with a receipt of RM118bil, said its secretary-­general Datuk Rashidi Hasbullah. The ministry hopes to increase the figures to 36 million tourist arrivals and RM168bil in tourism receipts by 2020, which is the Visit Malaysia Year, he said at a press conference after the MATTA Fair March 2018 launch.  “Last year, 75% of our arrivals were from Asean countries. We will continue to focus on the region, besides China, India and Japan,” he said.  Last year, Malaysia recorded 25.9 million tourist arrivals and RM82.1bil in tourism receipts.

Rashidi said Malaysia will collaborate with other Asean countries to promote the region as a single destination. He said the initiative encourages foreigners outside of Asean to visit several countries when they travel to the region, instead of just a single country. Read more at

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