The Malaysian Association of Tour & Travel Agents (MATTA) is urging the government to prioritise and fast-track vaccination for tourism workers.
“Our national tourism industry which is on the verge of collapse needs to be safeguarded and revitalised as it is one of the prime economic pillars and pivotal to our nation’s economic recovery.
Vaccination of the frontline workers (tour operators, drivers, boatmen, tourist guides, hotel staff and other related staff) is critical on this journey towards the reopening of our economy and our tourism industry,” said Datuk Tan Kok Liang, President MATTA in a statement today.
He added the government has been talking about bolstering domestic tourism for the last 15 months, yet tourism workers have not been given priority.
“This is disappointing as countries like Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia have all prioritised tourism workers for vaccination. Even a small country like Cambodia has managed to administer the first dose of the vaccine to 2,100,151 of its citizens to- date. Malaysia unfortunately is lagging far behind,” added Tan who is also the President of the Federation of ASEAN Travel Association (FATA).
“We must continue to promote domestic tourism aggressively within the country, and therefore tour and travel industry workers must be vaccinated at the very soonest.”
Research by the Department of Statistics, Malaysia, shows that 239 million visitors traveled within the country in 2019, an increase of 8.1% compared to 2018. RM 103.2 billion was spent by domestic visitors with an annual growth rate of 11.5%.
Saudi Arabia’s recent ruling that allows only people who have been vaccinated against Covid-19 to perform hajj this year provides even more reason for tourism players to be vaccinated in preparation for the hajj season that will take place in mid-July.
An expedited vaccination for tourism players would facilitate the recovery of the local tourism industry, especially amongst Bumiputera agents.
This move would provide an opportunity for registered Bumiputera agents to restart their business which has seen up to a drop of up to 97% of their income due to the continuous lockdown.
MATTA had earlier sent an appeal to Khairy Jamaluddin, Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation cum Minister of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Program seeking urgent attention and decision to give priority for tourism frontline staff and workers in tour and travel agencies.
“Without a game-plan from the government and its non-committal wait and see approach on loan moratoriums, financial support, extension of wage subsidy program, waiver of compliance costs, utilities and rental rebate due to MCO 3.0, it has virtually left SMEs tourism business and 3.6 million workers dejected” said Tan.