Hotels, tourism players drafting new SOPs for safe future travels

New preventive measures will also be adopted by events and catering operators to protect attendees and participants


HOTEL operators, among the hardest-hit by Covid-19 since January, are currently looking into new practices that can be implemented to enable safe travels in the future.

The Malaysian Association of Hotels CEO Yap Lip Seng told The Malaysian Reserve that the tourism industry players, particularly hotels, are drafting new standard operating procedures (SOPs) and practices which will enable people to travel without worries in the near future.

Presently, Yap said the hotel industry understands the need and importance of stopping the Covid-19 spread and could not agree more with Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s message that “life will not be the same again”.

“Events and catering operations will also be adopting new preventive measures to protect attendees and participants.

“Hence, building confidence is the game changer and we hope to get the support from all parties, public and private working together as we move into the next level of tourism,” Yap said.

Yap mentioned that the industry is also waiting for a tourism-specific economic assistance package from the government in order to enable stakeholders to survive the Movement Control Order (MCO) period and the extended recovery duration.

The MCO, which came into force on March 18 and was extended to end yesterday, is extended again for another two weeks to April 28 to curb the spread of the deadly virus.

Under the MCO period, any sort of travelling including non-essential interstate travel is banned.

Meanwhile, the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents VP Mohd Akil Yusof said the extended MCO period will definitely hurt the economy and the travel industry particularly, including airline carriers, hoteliers and tour and travel agents.

“Because of this, I’d like to appeal to the government to reconsider an assistance package for the specific industry, because at the moment we have no income, but still have bills and things to pay,” he stated.

Some players have been granted a six-month loan moratorium, but what happens after the short reprieve is still a question mark.

“We feel that we’ll take between 12 and 24 months to recover to 80% operating state. This is a real thing that is happening that will be affecting businesses and our operations for a long time.

“It’s not just a dent in our cashflow, but a reality,” Mohd Akil said. During a recent webinar involving speakers from the tourism industry, Malaysian Association of Convention and Exhibition Organisers and Suppliers president Datuk Vincent Lim said business will move slowly and not quite regain their lustre from before the outbreak.

The most important thing for tourism players to address is preparing and changing oneself to reinvent one’s business into the new normal, post Covid-19, Lim said.

Arts, Live Festivals and Events Associations special advisor Para Rajagopal added that there is a need for a mitigation plan for the damages done by the virus, either by cutting losses or staff.

“You need to know how to manage your reserves at this point of time, and accept help while it’s being given out.

“Rent and operating expenditure should also be watched while the key point right now should be regular communication, with core team members to prepare for the future and recovery process. This should be the time to train staff and come up with more improvement plans so that you’re constantly engaged,” he said.

Organisations should also maintain solid communication with relevant associations and the government.

“This is the time where you can find ways to start a different stream of revenues, and you need to put your team together and see what resources you can use to begin a new income source,” Para added.