Rising Covid-19 cases could delay tourism industry’s recovery

The pandemic poses too many uncertain factors, including fluctuations in the number of positive cases


THE ongoing rise of Covid-19 cases in Malaysia could cost the tourism industry its much-needed recovery.

Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri (picture) said based on the country’s experience in facing previous crises such as SARS, H1N1 and Ebola, tourism was found to have recovered faster than other industries.

“However, the Covid-19 pandemic is different as it poses too many uncertain factors, including fluctuations in the number of positive cases that have occurred lately.

“This could cause the tourism industry’s recovery period to be longer,” she said at the launch of “Fuel Penuh Gaya MyDebit Je with our ATM Card!” campaign in Shah Alam yesterday.

Nancy said her ministry expected a decrease in the domestic tourism expenditure for this year, especially during the Movement Control Order, adding that they are still gathering data to identify the trend.

“We are optimistic that the Tourism and Culture Recovery Plan strategy, which focuses on domestic tourism, could be the catalyst and the foundation for the industry to recover.

“Even if we look through the Tourism Satellite Account 2019 report released by the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DoSM), expenditure by domestic tourism exceeded inbound tourism for the first time. Overall, the gross value added of the industry has contributed RM240.2 billion or 1.59% to the country’s GDP,” she said.

When asked about the low occupancy rate faced by hotels, she said the ministry will be going all out on the “Cuti-Cuti Malaysia” campaign which is already synonymous with locals.

“We are pushing and getting hotels to participate because we need people to travel confidently. The Malaysian Association of Hotels now also has their own benchmarking called ‘Clean & Safe’, so people will not worry about travelling and staying at hotels,” she said.

Meanwhile, Tourism Malaysia has teamed up with Petron Malaysia and Payments Network Malaysia Sdn Bhd (PayNet) to launch “Fuel Penuh Gaya MyDebit Je with our ATM Card!” campaign aimed to boost mobility and encourage the public to spend and travel domestically.

Based on the recent data by DoSM on domestic tourism last year, fuel registered as the second-biggest share of the total expenditure made by domestic travellers in 2019 at 16.7%, hence, the collaboration can drive the demand on fuel consumption and encourage people to travel within the country.

PayNet group CEO Peter Schiesser said the campaign encourages cashless payments and offers greater convenience to consumers with the removal of the RM200 pre-authorisation hold.

“Through such campaigns, we aim to increase the use of MyDebit ATM cards for purchases and payments,” he added.

The campaign will run from today until Dec 31 and entitles anyone who has purchased RM5 or more on fuel in a single receipt at any Petron station using their MyDebit ATM card issued by banks in Malaysia.

Petron is the first petrol chain in the country to offer customers the ability to make MyDebit ATM card payments at petrol pumps without the RM200 pre-authorisation hold which was previously done for up to three days.

Additionally, the campaign offers a total of 169 prizes including hotel-stay vouchers from 36 hotels courtesy of Tourism Malaysia.