Tourism players expect more travel bans to be lifted

by HARIZAH KAMEL / pic by RAZAK GHAZALI

THE latest standard operating procedures (SOPs) on cross-border travel between states that are under the Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO) might be the much-needed breather for the tourism industry, but players are anticipating the easing of more restrictions that could keep their business going.

The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) president Datuk Tan Kok Liang said companies within the industry are now creating tour packages to cater to families, corporate groups and schools, colleges and universities.

“That being said, it is still too early to gauge if the tourism industry will recover from this measure,” he told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR).

Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob recently announced that individuals who are interested in travelling should use a travel agent registered with the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry (Motac), adding that the agents will need to get permission from the police for cross-state movements.

Travellers are not allowed to use private vehicles and can only use tourist vehicles.

Tan said many operators and tourism vehicles for domestic tourism are mainly from Kuala Lumpur, Selangor and Penang — these areas are still under the Conditional MCO.

“It would take some time for us to market to the public with new tour packages that serve the new SOPs in place.

“We also understand the need for the government to ensure SOPs were maintained and that the travel operators would give their full cooperation to ensure that,” he said.

He said Matta is hopeful that the government would eventually solely apply restrictions on local hotspots rather than an entire state, and reduce the administrative hassle of police approvals.

The Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) president Datuk N Subramaniam (picture) told TMR the move indicates that the government had taken the industry’s views ahead of scheduled restrictions until March 18, closer towards the full reopening of interstate travel.

“We are appreciative of Motac’s effort in pushing the proposed relaxation and are hopeful that Motac and the government will take this further as we record even lower cases in coming days,” he said.

He said the industry is also proposing for the government to allow travel between RMCO states via flight with confirmed hotel bookings.

Meanwhile, Tan added that he is uncertain if the tourism industry would experience a spike in income after this as it depends on vaccine roll-out and containment of the pandemic.

MAH CEO Yap Lip Seng also told TMR that he does not see a spike, but expects a small volume of income limited to RMCO states at the moment, adding that he hopes more states will be under the RMCO by March 18.


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