by AZALEA AZUAR / pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL
HOTEL bookings may be picking up but they are slower than anticipated even during the recent Chinese New Year (CNY) holidays.
Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) president Datuk Tan Kok Liang hopes that the government would reopen Malaysia’s international borders for tourists.
“Coming into the third year with international borders closed for tourism except for the travel bubble, Langkawi and the vaccinated travel lane (VTL), the ailing tourism industry will expect more closures if the government maintains its current policy and travel restrictions,” he said.
Malaysian Association of Hotel Owners executive director Shaharuddin M Saaid also expressed similar sentiment, saying there was a lull in the sector, although it is heading towards recovery.
“It is good compared to the time before the pandemic. However, we have not returned to the level before the Covid-19 pandemic yet,” he said.
“Of course domestic tourism did pick up during Christmas and CNY but they are unable to sustain the whole tourism ecosystem which is highly dependent on foreign tourists,” he said.
TMR previously reported Malaysian Inbound Tourism Association (MITA) president Uzaidi Udanis as saying that there is no doubt that the travel agencies in the country rely heavily on inbound tourism.
“We are depending so much on the international market — we had about 60 million international tourists every year before the Covid-19 pandemic hit,” Uzaidi told TMR.
National Recovery Council chairman Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the council is proposing to fully reopen the country’s borders as early as March 1, without the need for mandatory quarantine.
To-date, the vaccinated travel lane between Malaysia and Singapore has resumed at full capacity starting Wednesday.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said that Malaysia is looking to establish VTL with Brunei while Indonesia had mulled to reopen its borders sans quarantine in April.
Meanwhile Malaysian Budget and Business Hotel Association (MyBHA) president Emmy Suraya Hussein, said the bookings for staycations hotels in Kuala Lumpur (KL) are a bit low.
However, hotels in the outskirts such as the beach areas are doing well.
Emmy believes that the spike of Covid-19 cases caused by the Omicron variant would not badly affect the hotel industry.
“The number of Covid-19 cases in the hotel are not that much. The hotels adhere strictly to the standard operating procedures (SOPs) because we have no issues on this and there is no hotel cluster,” she added.
Islamic Tourism Centre (ITC) director-general Datuk Dr Mohmed Razip Hasan, said that everyone has an important role to play in the next few weeks and the future to make tourism, travel and hospitality a safe activity as well as recovery for related business.
“ITC has also been active in engaging with our tourism stakeholders through training to promote wellness, cleanliness, and peace of mind travel, in preparation for a full tourism recovery.
“The rollout of our vaccination programme and booster shots plus healthy balanced lifestyle insha-Allah will also facilitate a safe tourism experience here in Malaysia,” he told TMR.