by ASILA JALIL / pic by TMR FILE
THE Malaysian Association of Theme Park and Family Attractions (Maatfa) is proposing the reopening of core businesses in the tourism industry such as theme parks, cinemas and family entertainment centres along with shopping malls and hotels in the second phase of the National Recovery Plan.
The tourism industry may only be allowed to operate in October which, the association said, may be too late for some businesses that have been struggling to sustain their operations since before the full lockdown.
Maatfa president Tan Sri Richard CK Koh said until then, many would already be shuttering their businesses, probably permanently.
“There cannot be a comeback for many of these business owners whose cash reserves, investments and everything the business stood for have evaporated in a long haul of over 16 months,” he said in a statement yesterday.
He said the tourism industry is the third-largest contributor to the country’s GDP which accounted for 5.9% of the total GDP in 2018.
The tourism industry is estimated to contribute about 13.1% to 14.2% to the country’s total GDP, he added.
Maatfa also called for the government to draw up a tourism recovery plan in the immediate and medium-term which includes working with the private sector to execute the plans.
“Let us use the best practices like those that have been adopted in various other countries like Thailand and Europe.
“The alternate consequences are taking a very heavy toll on our economic structure considering tourism is the third-largest GDP contributor. No one has been spared in the tourism industry,” Koh said.
Maatfa proposed a three-pronged approach for the government to draw up a plan to accelerate recovery in the tourism sector which includes financial support, statutory exemptions and proactive and inclusive actions on the standard operating procedures (SOPs).
In terms of financing, Koh said there needs to be a programme which is managed and distributed by a single agency under the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry (Motac) to facilitate assistance.
“We appreciate the government having allotted RM1 billion to the Penjana Tourism Sector Financing to help SMEs and micro SMEs affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. However, the programme remains a low impact initiative.
“We seek a straightforward programme to be managed and distributed by a single agency under Motac — now it is vested in the hands of 12 commercial and development banks. We need converged single-window management of this fund,” he said.
Koh also said the government should freeze all statutory needs until Dec 31, 2021, and work on enhancing the SOPs to curb the spread of the virus in the country.
To enable better coordination in tightening the SOPs, Koh said the government should maximise the potential of MySejahtera and Hotspots Identification for Dynamic Engagement for proactive measures.
“If the government still makes a widespread decision to keep all these sectors under the tourism industry on the negative list, hence, cannot operate, then we seek the government to compensate — especially in the aspects of financial aid, accelerated wages subsidy, operational cost, statutory leaves, utility discounts and tax obligation.
“Otherwise, if we have to keep costs at the pre-pandemic level, not retrench workers and yet match with zero revenue — that is bad business and bad for business,” he added.