How the Malaysian hotel and travel industry is helping Covid-19 frontliners


  • Malaysia
  • Wednesday, 01 Apr 2020

Medical providers nationwide are working around the clock to curb the spread of Covid-19. — Filepic

As frontliners brave exhaustion and risk their own safety to curb the spread of Covid-19, the travel industry has stepped up to lend a helping hand in this time of need.

Some hotels have started to offer free accommodation for healthcare professionals, while aviation companies are using their fleet to transport essential goods.

Tune Hotel recently announced that healthcare staff from the Kuala Lumpur General Hospital (HKL) can stay for free at its Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) branch.

“This will assist frontline healthcare workers battling the Covid-19 crisis who, after working long shifts, and (may) have difficulty in going home before reporting for duty again, to get some respite rather than sleep in corridors and on stretchers, ” the company said in a statement.

Since then, OYO Malaysia has also introduced similar measures. In a statement, the India-based travel startup said healthcare workers can stay for free in certain partner hotels that are within a 5km radius of HKL, Shah Alam Hospital (Selangor) and Tuanku Jaafar Hospital (Negri Sembilan).

According to OYO Malaysia, the three hospitals were chosen as they were identified as those that are currently treating a large number of coronavirus cases.

Healthcare staff from these hospitals can book rooms by contacting the OYO Careline on 013-356 0534,012-296 8682,016-696 0616 and 014-381 9527 between 9am and 6pm.

   Some hotels have offered free rooms for healthcare practitioners, so that they may get some much needed rest. — FilepicSome hotels have offered free rooms for healthcare practitioners, so that they may get some much needed rest. — Filepic

Meanwhile, Malaysia Budget Hotel Association (MyBHA) deputy president Dr Sri Ganesh Michiel said budget hotels in the country have been urged to provide free or discounted room rates to frontliners who are currently working on Covid-19.

Sri Ganesh said that some budget hotel owners are also donating soap and food to the frontliners.

“This is how we show our support towards them as they are now working around the clock to save lives, ” he said.

Elsewhere, hotel technology company Cloudbeds has launched an online portal to connect hotels with healthcare providers and local governments.

Cloudbeds co-founders Adam Harris & Richard Castle, in a joint statement, said this is an “unprecedented time for the hospitality industry”.

“Beds are needed for field hospitals, for quarantine, for social distancing, and for our health professionals who are being called into action from all corners of the globe.

“We are working to connect our customers and industry partners to government and healthcare agencies that require desperate assistance, ” they said.

Hoteliers are urged to fill up an online form at hospitalityhelps.org.

Transporting aid

During this time of health crisis, frontliners are also grappling with limited resources. The issue of face mask shortage nationwide is something that the government is tackling, by importing from international suppliers.

Teleport, the cargo and logistics platform of AirAsia, has pledged to focus on moving medical supplies and protective equipment needed by hospitals and emergency responders.

Teleport chief executive officer Pete Chareonwongsak said the industry needs to get its priorities right during this difficult period.

“These (medical) supplies are increasingly in short supply globally and we want to ensure they are delivered to the frontline workers in the region who need them the most, ” he said.

During this time of health crisis, frontliners are also grappling with limited resources such as face masks - RONNIE CHIN/The StarDuring this time of health crisis, frontliners are also grappling with limited resources such as face masks - RONNIE CHIN/The Star

Chareonwongsak said cargo companies’ infrastructure is critical during this time for regional supply chains, surging e-commerce demand, and essential services.

“Our goal remains to keep the core of our domestic and international network by flying cargo-only on passenger planes so we are able to accommodate critical cargo and e-commerce needs. We intend to do our part, ” he said.

In view of the travel restrictions imposed by Malaysia and other countries, airlines are also stepping in to help those critical travel requirements.

Some travellers have found themselves unexpectedly stranded as countries closed their borders and ground international flights almost overnight.

Global aviation company VistaJet is working directly with governments and consulates around the world, helping them to repatriate citizens by providing complimentary empty leg flights.

Additionally, empty leg flights are being offered as critical flights to transport medical experts to necessary locations.

VistaJet founder and chairman Thomas Flohr said the company is committed in helping with flying needs during the crisis.

“We know we don’t normally offer repatriation flights or the transportation of medical equipment, but ultimately, we are a logistics company and we are here to help the global community as much as we can.

“This is an unusual time and one that we must all work together where possible to do whatever we can to help, ” he said.

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