By Rohani Mohd Ibrahim
PUTRAJAYA (Bernama) – Being in an industry that has practically come to a standstill due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a Malaysian tour company chose to quit waiting for the travel business to resume operations; instead, it decided to be more resourceful and generate other business ideas.
This shift in attitude led to MyZarra Travel and Services Sdn Bhd discovering a new source of revenue, namely importing and marketing summer fruits from Turkey, which was among the most popular travel destinations for its clients.
Said MyZarra owner and director Zawati Talib: “My company’s reaction to the new normal is to stop waiting for the travel business to resume (as we don’t know when that will take place) and start thinking more creatively.
“As it is the height of the cherry season in Turkey from now up to September, I decided to import and distribute it in Malaysia as the cherries were a big hit with Malaysian tourists visiting the country.”
MyZarra has also begun importing honey apricots from Turkey and plans to market peaches, plums and nectarines, also from Turkey, beginning next month.
MyZarra’s new business venture is turning out to be successful and nearly 500 kilogrammes of fresh cherries are flown into Kuala Lumpur each week from Istanbul, Turkey.
“The cherries sold by MyZarra usually reach my customers within 48 hours after they are picked from cherry orchards located in Cappadocia, Pamukkale and Safranbolu,” Zawati told Bernama, adding that her tour packages to Turkey usually included visits to these orchards.
According to Zawati, who promotes the sweet, juicy and crunchy red cherries on her Facebook account ‘Turkey Sweet Cherries’, the demand for the fruit was overwhelming even before her stock arrived on Malaysian shores.
While orders for her fruits are mostly made online, she has also appointed some of her friends as agents in and outside the Klang Valley to sell the cherries that are priced at RM60 a kilogramme.
On the impact of COVID-19 on her travel business, Zawati said she had to cancel 10 pre-booked tour packages to Europe, Vietnam, Scandinavia, Thailand and Russia after Malaysia and other nations closed their borders to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
“These tours were scheduled for departure from March until July,” she said, adding that customers who had paid for their tours in March would not be able to get refunds as the airfares and land transportation costs have already been paid.
She said those who have paid a deposit for overseas tours after August can, depending on the terms and conditions of the airlines concerned, postpone their trips to next year.
She added that her company may have to cancel another 20 group tours scheduled between October and December if the travel restrictions are not lifted by then.
Asked if MyZarra is stepping up local tour promotions as domestic tours are allowed under the Recovery Movement Control Order, Zawati replied in the affirmative.
The company is focusing on organising small group tours to Langkawi, Kundasang (in Sabah), Cameron Highlands and Melaka, she said, adding that more destinations will be added to its list to stimulate domestic tourism.
Translated by Rema Nambiar
Malaysia National News Agency
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