Local tourism nosedives as Movement Control Order begins

Under the order, the travelling prohibitions imposed include domestic holiday destinations

by ASILA JALIL/ pic by TMR FILE

THE Movement Control Order has taken a toll on local tourism as travel agencies are forced to either cancel reservations or postpone bookings made for packages scheduled for the next two weeks.

Prior to the order, local tourism was seen as a possible avenue that could help industry players cut some losses and make some earnings. The plan was somehow dashed as domestic travellers are facing restrictions and prohibitions stipulated by the Movement Control Order.

Owner of Homestay Bandar Hilir Melaka, who wished to be known as Che Ali, said about 100 bookings had to be cancelled due to the order that took effect yesterday.

“Before the announcement was made on Monday, we were doing okay. We received a lot of bookings, but since we had to obey the restriction (order), we have cancelled all of them.

“We have fully refunded all of our customers who made reservations with us for the next two weeks. There are about 100 of them,” he told The Malaysian Reserve yesterday.

Besides providing accommodation, Che Ali also provides tour packages around Melaka. His customers comprise both local and foreign tourists. With the restriction, Che Ali had to bear losses amounting to almost RM50,000.

“We have hired some workers for these trips and we have paid some of them, so we can’t take that back,” he said.

The National Security Council released its first FAQ (frequently asked question) yesterday to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Under the order, the travelling prohibitions imposed include domestic holiday destinations. Locals are advised to not proceed with their holiday plans.

Sarah Travel and Tours has decided to postpone reservations made to islands in Terengganu to a later date. Based in Besut, Terengganu, Sarah Travel and Tours provides tour packages to Pulau Redang and Pulau Perhentian.

“Although the outbreak began in late January, many people were still going on trips to the islands. Business was as usual for us and we did not experience any slowdown.

“However, we still have to obey the order and we were told to stop operating until the end of the month. Customers, who have reserved a tour with us, will have to postpone their trip and we allow them to choose another date after the situation gets better,” said the owner who wished to be known as Sarah.

She said almost 100 bookings were affected due to the restriction and none of the customers had chosen a new date for their trips.

She added that boats still operating are only those that are bringing back customers or locals from the island to the mainland.

Terengganu Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Samsuri Mokhtar yesterday urged all holiday resorts and hotels in the state, including those on the islands, to not take any guests for two weeks starting yesterday.

He said the public must comply with the government’s order and not use the period to go on holidays with families.

Health DG Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah had also told Malaysians to take the Movement Control Order seriously. He warned that the country could face a third wave of the virus if the public takes a lackadaisical attitude.