Holidaymakers can book their tours at Matta Fair Sabah on May 19-20 at SICC

KOTA KINABALU: Holidaymakers are eager to travel again following the reopening of international borders in the post Covid-19 pandemic.

Their eagerness was reflected in the RM25 million sales of 40 booths during the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) Fair Sabah in December last year.

The sales showed the people have the buying power and are looking forward to travel despite the negative impacts of the pandemic.

For the coming Matta Fair Sabah 2023 to feature 150 booths at the Sabah International Convention Centre (SICC) here from May 19 to 21, Matta Sabah Honorary Secretary Alicia Gomes said given the encouraging performance of last year fair, they hoped to achieve RM50 million in sales.

“The coming fair will be bigger and a bit different because the participation is open to all tourism players – local, penin- sula and overseas to showcase their products,” she told a press conference at the Matta Sabah secretariat in Luyang.

Rural community-based operators are encouraged to participate to promote their destinations, she said, adding they expect to fair to attract 80,000 visitors.

Alicia said leisure travelling is returning and records showed the people are yearning to travel as more direct flights are flying into Sabah after three years of restrictions.

China has opened its borders and more tour packages are available to China, Korea, Japan, Europe, USA and Middle East.

She said the fair would be promoting Saudi Arabia as a new holiday destination, in line with Matta’s counterpart in Kuala Lumper.

“Saudi Arabia is opening up as a normal tourist destination instead of only for people who go there to perform umrah,” she said.

Matta Sabah committee member Mohd Azlan Saleh, whose company handled the umrah tour, said during the fair last December, they managed to secure a sales turnover of RM5 million from umrah packages.

“The response was quite encouraging which showed the people are eager to travel,” he said.

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