Dire measures needed to save tourism industry

Govt’s efforts have not made any significant impact on this segment of the industry, says Matta


THE government must come up with an enhanced and targeted rescue plan for the tourism and hospitality industries in the wake of the reinstated Movement Control Order (MCO).

The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) president Datuk Tan Kok Liang said tourism businesses are currently in extreme distress due to the very fragile and uncertain business environment which is expected to continue late into 2021.

“Tour and travel agencies have been battling with collapsing revenue and liquidity problems since the start of the pandemic and the government’s efforts have not made any significant impact on this segment of the industry,” he said in a statement yesterday.

He said tourism has played an important part towards the national GDP as the third-largest contributor in the past years. In 2015, the industry contributed 14.1% (RM166 billion); 14.5% (RM182 billion) in 2016; 14.6% (RM201 billion) in 2017; 15.2% (RM220 billion) in 2018 and 15.9% (RM240 billion) in 2019 to the country’s GDP.

Last year, the Covid-19 pandemic vastly affected the tourism industry with an estimated total loss of exceeding RM100 billion.

“While the hotel industry is expecting more hotels to close or wind up due to the second phase of the MCO and continuous closure of borders, more travel agents especially those owning tourism vehicles are very likely to face the same fate as those hoteliers,” Tan said.

He noted that as tourism businesses are expected to suffer more losses, the government must provide an extension of the loan moratorium and enhanced wage subsidy programmes until June 30.

He elaborated that reliefs on rental, insurance and statutory licensing fees are also needed to help those who have been affected, especially the small and medium enterprises who are already debilitated from the previous MCO.

Matta also voiced its disappointment in the government for not allocating any fund for reskilling tourism workers apart from the 8,000 aviation workers as announced in Budget 2021.

“Matta called for various government agencies to make immediate policy changes to ease the financial burden of the hardest-hit industry in Malaysia,” said Tan.

World Trade Centre Kuala Lumpur ED Datuk Seri Dr Irmohizam Ibrahim said the tourism and hospitality industries need to be highlighted as domestic travelling is no longer allowed throughout the two weeks of the current MCO.

“The tourism and hospitality industries would need the government’s full support to bounce back and continue to contribute to the country’s economics,” he said in a statement yesterday.

He pointed out that the five states and the Federal Terrritories under the MCO restrictions are the main economic contributors for Malaysia with a GDP of 24.2% from Selangor, 16.9% from Kuala Lumpur, 9.4% from Johor, 6.7% from Penang, 6% from Sabah and 3.1% from Melaka.

However, these numbers should not be affected by the latest MCO as essential services are still allowed to operate, he said.

Echoing the same sentiment with Tan, Irmohizam said the government should consider extending the moratorium or introducing other forms of financial reliefs throughout 2021.

“This will indeed lessen the burden of the people and help them restructure their financial plans.

“The government has shown great support for the low-income group, but attention should also be given to those who have been retrenched or lost their jobs,” he added.

Read our earlier report

Another year before hotel operators could break even