Cancellations again for hotels

Prior to MCO 3.0, hotels across the country were operating under the green lane

by NUR HAZIQAH A MALEK 

THE drought of guests that hotels have been experiencing since last year is not showing any signs of ending, more so now that the country is under another lockdown.

Prior to the third Movement Control Order (MCO 3.0), hotels across the country were operating under the green lane.

A source within the industry, who requested anonymity, said there were some bookings prior to the announcement of the June 1-28 “total lockdown”, but those have since been scrapped.

“There were definitely cancelled bookings since the total lockdown was announced on May 28, but it had begun much earlier when MCO 3.0 was first announced,” the source told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR), without providing any figures or data.

To counter this loss, hoteliers asked to be given leeway on statutory payments during the lockdown and that the government should support businesses throughout the period, including the wage subsidy programme and full moratoriums.

Hotels have also requested to be classified as an essential service as they are not only playing an important role in housing international arrivals undergoing mandatory quarantine, but they can also serve the general public opting to stay at hotels for self-isolation after being exposed to Covid-19 and want to protect their families at home.

The Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry (Motac) had earlier announced that hotels are allowed to operate during the lockdown period, but only for quarantine, isolation and necessary work.

“All tourism and cultural activities are not allowed except for staying at the hotel for quarantine, isolation and necessary service works.

“Hotel stays for the purpose of staycation and tourism, although within the same area or zone, are also not allowed for the entire duration,” it said.

Hotels that are registered with Motac can check and download their statuses via https://motac.gov.my/pkphotel, while those that are not registered and wish to apply to operate must email their hotel names, Companies Commission of Malaysia certificates and local authority permits to [email protected]

“Motac is always looking at ways to protect industry players, however, we must abide by the government’s decisions in prioritising the people’s safety and health, and prevent the spread of the pandemic,” it said.

This was in response to the industry source saying that hotels were experiencing difficulties in receiving permission for operation during the lockdown period.

Meanwhile, Malaysian Association of Hotels CEO Yap Lip Seng said following the implementation of the total lockdown, hotels have been considering temporary closure.

“Most hotels are considering temporarily closing for the period, to save costs, unless they are providing a quarantine facility,” he said.

Sharing his sentiment, Malaysian Budget and Business Hotel Association president Emmy Suraya said many hotels have chosen to close temporarily.

“Hotels can only operate if they are offering quarantine facilities or if guests in essential services check-in.

“So, businesses are very bad at the moment as they are opting for temporary closure to avoid more overhead expenses that have been incurred since MCO 1.0,” she told TMR recently.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, hotels have been experiencing continuous hiccups, up to the point where they have been promoting food takeouts for earnings, while some hotel owners have been seen promoting products outside hotels in desperation to keep their establishments afloat.

TMR has also reported the change in the employment model of hotels, where they have been opting for part-timers instead of full-time staff due to the expenses.

In an interview with the Department of Broadcasting on Bicara Naratif, Motac Minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri (picture) estimated October 2021 for the reopening of domestic tourism.

“We hope to achieve herd immunity at top domestic locations such as Pulau Langkawi as well as Kuching first and foremost, before we can look at other tourist destinations.

“In the meantime, we are continuously promoting Malaysia so that we will be a top pick among international visitors when we reopen borders,” she said.

Nancy said the ministry is focused on reskilling workers in the tourism industry, especially hotel workers who have to deal with people undergoing quarantine before they could return home.