No plan has been drawn out yet to address the anticipated influx of international travellers
by SHAHEERA AZNAM SHAH / pic by ARIF KARTONO
MALAYSIA is still lagging in formulating a recovery plan for the tourism industry, which could cost the country its position as among the top destinations for international travellers in SouthEast Asia.
Malaysian Association of Hotels CEO Yap Lip Seng said despite being the third most visited country among Asean members, Malaysia records slower growth in tourist arrivals compared to Cambodia, Indonesia and Vietnam.
“If we were to benchmark Malaysia even before the pandemic, Malaysia is the only Asean country with insignificant growth in tourist arrivals, while Cambodia, Indonesia and Vietnam record double-digit growth.
“Malaysia was already losing out on tourism competitiveness and with the pandemic, Malaysia risks falling behind further,” he told The Malaysian Reserve.
Yap said no plan has been drawn up to address the anticipated influx of international travellers.
“As of now, we have seen neighbouring countries setting up border-reopening plans for leisure travel, but we have not seen any for Malaysia.
“Although Malaysia is blessed with various attractions, preparedness is equally important as the competitiveness.
“Malaysia can only hope for extreme pent-up demand and spillovers from neighbouring countries. On top of that, Malaysia has lost and is still losing tourism capacity with more industry players exiting the industry.”
To date, more than 12,000 hotel employees have either been retrenched, undergoing pay-cut or unpaid leaves.
“We have tracked approximately 90 hotels closed either permanently or temporarily, and most if not all travel and tour operators had ceased operations, not able to plan to reopen at all.”
Yap said economic assistance through the Wage Subsidy Programme (WSP) 2.0, which ends this month, will be the determining factor for employers.
“Without WSP, the industry will likely unable to sustain, given the high cost of operations and overheads with limited revenue dependent on the domestic market.”
Yap said typically, international arrivals contribute 45% to hotel revenue, while the domestic market constitutes a slightly larger portion of 55%.
“Without international arrivals, the industry is forced to compromise its room rates, dropping prices between 30% and 70%.
“Based on Tourism Malaysia’s report, the average spend of international tourists is approximately RM3,300 per person, while a local tourist is only approximately RM804.”
Commenting on the new National Tourism Policy 2020-2030, Yap said the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry should be given sufficient autonomy to ensure all the objectives are achievable within the time frame.
Read our previous report here