MATTA, China Cultural Centre tie up to boost bilateral ties

Xu trying his hand at batik painting, a traditional art in Malaysia at the MATTA event

The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) recently collaborated with the China Cultural Centre in Kuala Lumpur (CCCKL) to hold a Tourism Promotion and Business Matching Conference, bringing together more than 150 tourism industry players from both countries to clinch business deals and make full use of the latest development in the ever-evolving travel industry.

MATTA president Tan Kok Liang said in a release that the association “can play an influential and effective role in collaborating with China Cultural Centre in Kuala Lumpur to promote business exchanges and development between Chinese and Malaysian tour operators”.

Xu trying his hand at batik painting, a traditional art form in Malaysia, at the MATTA event

The one-day event, which was held on January 19 and in conjunction with the China-Malaysia Year of Culture and Tourism 2020, is designed to facilitate greater flow of tourists to both countries.

The conference was graced by Zhang Xu, vice minister of Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the People’s Republic of China, and Mohd Zamri Mat Zain, deputy secretary general (tourism) of Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture Malaysia.

Arrivals from China to Malaysia had been increasing from 1.6 million in 2014 to 2.9 million in 2018, and more than 3.2 million in 2019.

This year, Malaysia is targeting tourist arrivals from China to hit four million, on the back of visa exemptions of up to 15 days for Chinese tourists this year.

Tan opined: “The number of Malaysians travelling to China for business, holiday or visit will also increase this year, more so after the Chinese embassy in Kuala Lumpur (recently) announced a variety of visas to facilitate entry into China.”

However, in light of the mass cancellations for both inbound and outbound tours to and from China due to the restrictions imposed by the Chinese government, it remains to be seen if Malaysia will hit its target.

Industry stakeholders are particularly worried about the effect this will have on Visit Malaysia 2020, Tan said in a separate press statement.

But he remains optimistic that the tourism industry will bounce back from this crisis. 
“The tourism industry will certainly be impacted by lesser number of tourists from China, which is the world’s largest outbound market. But Malaysia has proven to be resilient as it has survived the SARS in 2003 and MERS in 2012,” Tan said.

Looking ahead, MATTA has proposed to the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC) forward-looking recovery measures which include preparations to vigorously promote Malaysia to China once it is safe for Chinese tourists to travel and to harness the power of big data to implement smart strategies that can be applied immediately to keep the Malaysian tourism industry robust and flexible during this time of crisis.

Industry stakeholders are looking forward to further discussions with MOTAC on recovery plans and MATTA is already making plans to intensify its trade missions and promotions to China once the situation subsides.

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