Hotels almost fully booked despite Omicron concerns

The hotel industry anticipating an average occupancy rate as high as 70% in popular destinations and 40%-50% at other locations


THE hotel industry is seeing an encouraging number of hotel rooms being booked for the year-end holiday season despite concerns over the Omicron variant.

A quick check on leading hotel booking platforms such as Agoda, and Trivago showed most hotel rooms in top local holiday destinations have been fully taken up by holidaymakers, with just one or two rooms left for last-minute bookings.

The Malaysian Association of Hotels CEO Yap Lip Seng said hotels in popular local destinations are recording an uptrend in bookings for the year-end period, showing a glimmer of hope for the hotel as well as tourism industry.

He added that the hotel industry is anticipating an average occupancy rate as high as 70% in popular destinations, while other locations will be hovering at a range of 40% to 50%.

“This is largely due to the limited domestic market.

“Nevertheless, some popular local destinations such as Penang, Langkawi, Port Dickson and Genting Highlands are enjoying almost full occupancy rates due to the recent public holidays and long weekends,” he told The Malaysian Reserve.

Yap noted that the increase in hotel occupancy rates was also due to the holiday packages and promotions offered by tourism operators and hotels to attract more guests for the holiday season.

However, he said while many hotels are extending promotions due to high demand, some are limited.

He emphasised that the overall hotel room rates have been averagely down between 30% and 70% compared to pre-pandemic days depending on the locations.

“The public, however, are encouraged to take up the government’s subsidy programme through the ‘Jom Cuti-Cuti Malaysia’ campaign on Shopee.

“Malaysians are entitled to a RM100 subsidy for four-star and five-star hotels, or RM50 on three-star and below.

“We understand that many are eager to travel after a prolonged period of movement restrictions. This campaign provides a great incentive for Malaysians to do so,” he added.

Yap said there have been concerns raised due to the Omicron by domestic travellers, but Malaysians are still confident on travel.

He said this was because the year-end holidays are a highly anticipated period for both travellers and industry stakeholders.

“Health experts have yet to determine actual concerns and implications of the new variant, however, they have suggested the same standard operating procedures (SOPs) for the public, such as wearing face masks, sanitising and so on.

“Without conclusive studies on Omicron, if it differs in any way with other variants of concerns, the same SOPs and preventive measures taken by the industry should be sufficient as long as they are being adhered to strictly,” he noted.

Nevertheless, Yap said there should be full details from the health experts and the World Health Organisation on the Omicron variant soon, and whether it should be part of the exit plan or living with the virus as the country moves into the endemic phase.

He said rest assured that all tourism parties involved have taken the necessary precautions to provide as safe a travel experience as possible for everyone.

Recently, the government tightened the SOPs for travellers entering Malaysia in light of the emergence of the Omicron.

Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar had said the new SOPs will affect six categories of travellers. They comprise travellers under the vaccinated travel lane for both air and land, those in the Langkawi International Travel Bubble, One Stop Centre, travellers from the eight countries that are temporarily barred by the government and countries where the Omicron variant has spread within the community.

On Dec 3, Malaysia reported the first case of Omicron involving a 19-year-old private university student in Ipoh who arrived from South Africa through Singapore on Nov 19.