Is MATTA losing ground?

Compulsory membership up for review, other associations being considered By S Puvaneswary

  10/02/2010 11:05
KUALA LUMPUR Malaysia is reviewing its requirement for compulsory membership in the embattled Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) as a pre-condition for the annual renewal of agents’ and operators’ annual licence.

The Tourism Ministry is considering allowing agents to join other travel associations that are recognised by the government. Although the review comes on the heels of an acrimonious leadership tussle that had split MATTA in recent months, Tourism Minister Dr Ng Yen Yen was quick to dismiss a link between the two developments. “The ministry will not intervene, and members are capable of sorting out their differences,” said the minister. 

A ministerial source, however, explained that the said review had been floated following consultations with various national tourism associations that did not want to fall under MATTA’s umbrella. It is also the ministry’s view that it should not favour MATTA over the other associations.  

If the change is passed, it will be a victory for a handful of national associations that are recognised by the ministry. Critical of MATTA’s relevance and support, industry groups such as the Malaysian Inbound Tourism Association, Bumitra Malaysia and Car Rental Association of Malaysia (CRAM) have been lobbying for the change for years.

Bumitra Malaysia president Syed Razif Al Yahya said MATTA is currently competing with other local travel associations for project funding. Malaysian Inbound Tourism Association secretary-general Adam Kamal said MATTA concentrates on profit-generating travel fairs but fail to serve the inbound sector. “Not much was done to protect the interest of members when Malaysia Airlines implemented zero commissions for agents in 2008. The perennial problem of touts at the airports and licensed coaches getting summonses unnecessarily remain unsolved.”   

CRAM president Joshua Peter Tan said car rental companies are forced to become MATTA members although the association does not serve their needs. They do so only because MATTA membership is required to secure operating permits.


Henry Lee
Director/general manager, Reliance Sightseeing

“MATTA should still be the umbrella body to look after members’ interests so that the issue of compliance to ministry requirements and different interpretations does not arise. The MATTA leadership conflict right now is a clear case of politics. What MATTA needs are people willing to serve it without vested interests.”

Dominic Sinnappan
Managing director, Donaplus Tours & Travel

“The government should not force membership on a company. Travel agencies and tour operators must be convinced that there are benefits (to being a member of an association) and they would join voluntarily.”


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