In anticipation of stiffer regional competition for the tourism pie following the pandemic, the Malaysian Inbound Tourism Association (MITA) is giving inbound players in the country a head start by organising virtual B2B sessions to connect local tourism players with overseas travel agencies ahead of the annual ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF).
This year’s ATF, hosted by Cambodia, will take place from January 16 to 22 in Preah Sihanoukville.
MITA president, Uzaidi Udanis, shared that the association has planned seven B2B meetings with agents from Vietnam, Thailand, Brunei, Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines between January 4 and 14.
Unlike the traditional format of travel trade shows where pre-appointments are made and business appointments are prescribed a time limit, Uzaidi shared that MITA has done away with these formalities.
He said that the aim of organising these B2B events is to provide regional exposure for SMEs in Malaysia’s tourism sector, while showcasing new products and services that the country has to offer.
At the same time, Uzaidi hopes that it will encourage outbound players who had to pivot to attract the domestic market during this pandemic to now expand their services into the inbound sector, in preparation for the return of leisure tourists, which is expected sometime later this year.
He explained the focus is on South-east Asia as the region represented the majority of Malaysia’s inbound tourist arrivals pre-pandemic. China, which used to be the country’s top medium-haul source market, was excluded as “our outbound counterparts from China were not confident that China would allow its citizens to travel overseas for leisure purposes before 3Q2022,” shared Uzaidi.
To encourage participation, the fee is capped at RM100 (US$24) per session for sellers. It is free for buyers to attend.
Uzaidi stressed: “At ATF, we are competing with our counterparts for regional and international travel business. It is also easy for small and niche sellers, such as adventure tourism players, to get ‘drowned’. Here, we keep the fee affordable and encourage new sellers in the market to participate, and we are not competing with other nations for business.”
South-east Asian travel agents who wish to participate as buyers can register at https://virtualaseanb2b.eventbrite.com. Registration for Malaysian sellers has closed.