CMCO: Local tourism sector 'practically destroyed', say travel operators

  • Malaysia
  • Wednesday, 14 Oct 2020

The conditional MCO happened just as domestic tourism was beginning to pick up. - ART CHEN/The Star.

Travel stakeholders in Malaysia warned that the conditional movement control order (MCO) will further cripple the tourism industry here.

Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) president Datuk Tan Kok Liang said the restrictions came at a very fragile time for travel operators.

“It is frustrating and demoralising that this happened when domestic tourism is just beginning to pick up. With restrictions on inter-district travel, the demand for leisure travel is practically destroyed,” he said.

The conditional MCO is currently enforced in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Sabah. All tourism activities are not allowed in the four areas during this two-week period.

According to Tan, tourism businesses nationwide were already struggling before the implementation of this conditional MCO.

“Without further financial aid and moratorium extension from the government, it’s only a matter of time before most travel operators close down,” he said.

Tan said the government should have enforced stricter standard operating procedures (SOP).

“Strong enforcement to curb Covid-19 should be the norm rather than (consistently) implementing the MCO which hurts the economy badly," he said.

Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) chief executive officer Yap Lip Seng said while the conditional MCO is necessary in the wake of recent spikes in Covid-19 cases, it is a “step backward” for the tourism economy.

The restrictions, according to Yap, would hinder locals’ confidence to travel.

"We are anticipating a drop of 10% to 15% in occupancy over the next few weeks, and even more now that KL, Selangor and Putrajaya are being placed under conditional MCO,” he said, adding that the aforementioned areas are major markets for domestic tourists.

​​​​The Star earlier reported that hotels registered booking cancellations throughout the country following news of the conditional MCO.

"This would cost the industry between RM60mil and RM100mil in revenue at minimum and if the situation doesn’t improve, we will be forced (to go) back to the early days of the pandemic," Yap said.

"We earlier anticipated the beginning of tourism recovery in mid 2021, but looking at the situation now, it will likely be end of2021, ” he said.

Yap echoed Tan’s call for more assistance from the government to help tourism businesses survive.

“We need a targeted wage subsidy in order for the industry to survive. We have earlier proposed a 50% wage subsidy for employees with a monthly pay of up to RM4,000 and 30% for those who earn between RM4,001 and RM8,000 per month.

"This will allow the industry to retain jobs for employees," he said.

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