Travelling post-pandemic

In living, adapting and progressing amid the Covid-19 pandemic, IHG and Techvance Properties is developing Hotel Indigo KL on the Park, which is scheduled to open its doors in 2023

by AZALEA AZUAR / pics source: Hotel Indigo KL on the Park

YOU have no choice, but to finish your annual leave. However, amid the Covid-19 pandemic that does not seem to show any sign of slowing down, any plan to travel out of the country is futile.

Even if you decide to check out destinations within the border, you’d know that your movement would certainly be limited.

The tourism industry has been among the worst affected by the pandemic. So bad that the government has decided to set aside several allocations as announced in Budget 2021 presented on Nov 6.

The allocations include RM50 million for maintenance and repair of tourism facilities, RM1,000 under the Geran Khas Prihatin for traders and hawkers in Sabah who are affected by the drop in tourists arrivals due to the pandemic, RM50 million for 8,000 aviation industry employees who lost jobs, and RM20 million to improve infrastructure and intensify the promotion of cultural villages.

The government has also allocated RM200 million for a stimulus package under the Tourism Recovery Plan 2021.

Nancy says the govt will provide assistance in the form of rebates, discounts or subsidies on travel packages to boost domestic tourism

Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri said in her earlier briefs that the package will provide assistance in the form of rebates, discounts or subsidies on travel packages through online platforms.

There would also be collaborations with local tourism associations, theme parks, homestay associations, craftsmen and shopping centres to offer attractive travel packages to the people.

Nancy said the efforts are envisioned to boost domestic spending, which in turn, would boost the country’s economy.

At the same time, state governments are doing their part to help the tourism industry.

For instance, the Penang state government is extending hotel room exemption to June 2021, while the Selangor state government has also provided a one-off special incentive of RM1,000 each to 553 tourism industry players in the state.

Despite all the efforts, industry players are still uncertain about how the budget would be disbursed and utilised.

For instance, Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents president Datuk Tan Kok Liang said solid relief programmes to protect jobs and businesses in the tourism sector, which is on a rocky road towards recovery, is very much needed.

Members of the Malaysian Association of Hotels have also expressed their worries that the tourism and hotel industries are not getting any immediate assistance, particularly to stakeholders who are suffering from a decrease in cashflow due to domestic and international travel restrictions.

Players also lament the fact that little was mentioned on sustaining tourism businesses apart from the extension of the RM600 wage subsidy per employee per month.

As far as the players are concerned, the future of the tourism industry (in the near term) is rather bleak.

Think about it, just when we thought our economy was on the verge of recovery, we were hit by a third wave of Covid-19 cases since October last year.

Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin on Monday announced the implementation of the Movement Control Order from Jan 13 to Jan 26 due to the spike in Covid-19 cases of late.

The new standard operating procedures outline that interstate and interdistrict travels are strictly not allowed during the period, further affecting the tourism industry.

There would be collaborations with local tourism associations, theme parks, homestay associations, craftsmen and shopping centres to offer attractive travel packages to the people, says Nancy – pic by Muhd Amin Naharul

Tourism Post-Covid

Recently, United Nations World Tourism Organisation Technical Cooperation and Silk Road Development director Suman Billa did a discussion with global experts who concluded that the recovery of the tourism industry will only take place by the end of 2021 or early 2022.

The Covid-19 pandemic has not only badly impacted the tourism industry, but also changed it. The only thing we can do now is learn how to adapt to survive.

According to a study from The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), 92% of the respondents are mainly concerned about their health and hygiene.

Even if there is already a Covid-19 vaccine, travellers would continue to pay more attention to their health and hygiene.

One should expect to see hand sanitisers and masks at the airports, even after the pandemic is over.

Last year, many international events had to be cancelled or postponed. Right now, we can only live with virtual gigs and events.

The feeling might not be the same as experiencing live music among the crowd, but it does feel more peaceful. Perhaps in the future, virtual events could still live on.

The spread of digitalisation has also increased rapidly during the Covid-19 pandemic given a shift to lockdowns, remote working and contactless payment.

The report from WTTC also showed that almost half of the travellers (45%) are ready to transition from paper passports to digital identity.

In order to reduce high-touch surfaces and physical interactions, people are expected to make use of touchless document scanning, voice commands and motion sensors.

ince Hotel Indigo KL on the Park will be located next to Bukit Nanas, hotel visitors would experience the feeling of being in the forest, enhanced with the interactive Green Wall in the lobby

Domestic Tourism

International tourism would take a long time to recover post-pandemic, so domestic tourism would play an important role in rebuilding economies.

Since thousands of local businesses are affected by the pandemic, Tourplus Technology Sdn Bhd has created an app to help players by providing an online marketplace for travellers to connect with local businesses.

The local start-up founder and CEO Rickson Goh also quoted a recent survey conducted by Tourism Malaysia which revealed that a majority of respondents prefer to travel domestically than overseas post-MCO.

The idea certainly opens a bit of possibilities that could be explored by hotels around Malaysia.

Hotel Indigo KL on the Park’s guests are able to visit its outdoor rooftop pool while experiencing the breathtaking views of the urban landscape of KL

Living in Pandemic

One good example of a hotel chain trying to live, adapt and progress amid the Covid-19 pandemic is the InterContinental Hotels Group plc (IHG).

IHG would be partnering Techvance Properties Management Sdn Bhd to bring Hotel Indigo Kuala Lumpur (KL) on the Park, which is scheduled to open its doors in 2023.

The boutique upscale hotel would be located at the base of Bukit Nanas, close to tourist hotspots KL Tower and KL Forest Eco Park, and just within walking distance from Suria KLCC and Pavilion KL.

What makes Hotel Indigo KL on the Park stand out from the rest of the Hotel Indigo properties is that its design would capture the historical charm of KL’s heritage buildings and the breadth of nearby modern architecture.

In fact, both of the hotel’s two restaurants — Neighbourhood Cafe and Char Bistro and Bar — are heavily influenced by its local surroundings.

Neighbourhood Cafe offers a taste of local Malaysian cuisine with a modern spin, whereas Char Bistro and Bar provides a more casual setting.

Guests are also able to visit the rooftop bar and enjoy the relaxing sunset cocktail, while experiencing the breathtaking views of KL Tower, the Petronas Twin Towers and the urban landscape of KL.

The hotel also has a function room, flexible event space, outdoor rooftop pool, gym and work area that will also be available for the convenience of business and leisure travellers.

In line with IHG’s broader sustainability efforts, Hotel Indigo KL on the Park will prioritise environmentally friendly methods in its planning, by reclaiming materials from nearby sites, solar panels on its roof, and rainwater harvesting.

The hotel chain will also join the no plastic straw movement and opt for bulk amenities in all its guest rooms.

Since the Hotel Indigo KL on the Park will be located next to Bukit Nanas, hotel visitors would experience the feeling of being in the forest, enhanced with the interactive Green Wall in the lobby.

One would feel the immersive and Instagrammable experience.

Since health and safety are the top priorities for customers during these times, the hotel has rigorous cleaning procedures where additional Covid-19 protocols have been introduced.

IHG VP of development for South East Asia and Korea Serena Lim said bringing the Hotel Indigo brand into the country is an exciting challenge as it offers the opportunity to open a truly beautiful, boutique hotel which serves the curious — people who are inspired by new places, new people and new ideas.

“All of our guests, whether they are staying for leisure or business, will be offered a unique mix of rainforest relaxation alongside the delights of the city which is just minutes away.

“We want to offer everyone who stays with us not only a memorable trip, but also an experience they will remember for many years to come,” she explained.

The partnership with Techvance Properties Management means that the brand portfolio could be expanded in the capital of Malaysia.

Techvance Properties Management MD Datuk Edward Lau said his team also explored various options for this hotel project, but quickly decided on the partnership with IHG once they were introduced to the Hotel Indigo brand.

“The brand has a philosophy and values that align with our vision for this boutique property, one where we want to create something truly lasting and unique.

“We are confident that through this partnership, we will not just meet customer expectations, but exceed them,” he said.

Perhaps, the same idea of containing travel within certain localities will catch on with other hotel chains.

At least, all the annual leaves that have been accumulated would not go to waste.