KUALA LUMPUR, 8 July 2020: Malaysia Association of Tour and
Travel Agents has the standard operating procedures in place to help travel
agency members deliver a safe travel experience for domestic travellers.

Domestic travellers offer the only path for travel agents
and hotels to recoup their losses now the lockdown eases under the recovery
movement control order (MCO).

Malaysia Association of Tour and Travel Agents president, Datuk Tan Kok Liang, said MATTA already has the new standard operating procedures (SOP) in place. Among the guidelines, contactless measures are operative such as QR code for check-in, contactless payments, upgrading of systems and having fewer arrangements in the itinerary.

“We are pushing for packages with good rates and new
experiences to accommodate the new norm,” he told Star Online.

“We also hope the government will provide incentives
for domestic travel against the backdrop of the global recession,” said
Tan, who foresees that travellers will be more inclined to buy packages with
travel agents because of the quality and safety assurance.

Among the agency’s plans to help the industry is the
provision of a free integrated online platform, where travel agents can
advertise without needing to pay for the services of third parties.

The Statistics Department’s indicators for domestic tourism
for 2019 showed that domestic visitors increased by 8.1% to 239.1 million
visitors in 2019 from the year before while spending rose to RM103.2 billion,
or up by 11.5% compared to 2018.

Expenditure by domestic travellers was largely contributed
by shopping (37.8%), automotive fuel (15%), food and beverage (14.3%), visited
households (10.2%) and accommodation (8.4%).

The travellers’ main purposes were visiting relatives
(42.3%), shopping (35.4%) and leisure (9%).

Tourism Malaysia’s recent survey on domestic travel found that most travellers (88.4%) preferred to travel independently and out of that 98.8% of them bought their own travel arrangements from booking sites. Only 11.6% said they preferred to travel using tour packages.

But travel agents have a message for domestic consumers. They have better access to travel resources and can often get their clients a room upgrade or rate deals that include some meals. They can also package in-destination experiences, such as cooking classes and opportunities to interact with local communities, that are not widely available via online booking sites.

This is particularly true for Langkawi, where travel
companies are able to create packages that combine beach stays with nature and
cultural activities.

Travel agents are offering flexible cancellation policies,
smaller groups to meet social distancing rules, hygiene kits, and they ensure
ground transport including transfers to the airport use vehicles that comply
with Covid-19 prevention measures.

(Source: Star Online with additional reporting)