Budget 2021: Travel operators want more relief for fragile tourism sector

Tourist attraction Kwai Chai Hong in Kuala Lumpur which usually busy with tourists have been quiet due to the conditional movement control order. - AZHAR MAHFOF/The Star

Tourism stakeholders in Malaysia hope for initiatives that would boost the ailing travel sector ahead of Budget 2021, set to be tabled on Nov 6.

Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) president Datuk Tan Kok Liang said the local tourism industry is currently very "fragile and sensitive".

"The government has to focus on protecting jobs and businesses through a more effective wage subsidy programme and moratorium extension among other relief support," he said.

Tan added that the moratorium should be extended until at least June 2021 as the tourism industry has been crippled and operator are unable to repay loans.

"The government has to make firm decisions and instruct the banks and other finance and leasing companies to extend the moratorium period to help the economy as a whole," he said.

Tan also called for tax incentives for domestic holidayers.

"The government should further incentivise domestic travel through a special personal income tax relief of RM8,000 per person for domestic travel packages purchased through licensed travel agencies or tour operators," he said.

Meanwhile, the Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) has proposed a two-tiered wage subsidy system.

The tiered system specifically calls on the government to provide a 50% subsidy for employees earning up to RM4,000 and 30% for those between RM4,001 and RM8,000.

MAH chief executive officer Yap Lip Seng also said the overall tax system involving tourism sector should be restructured.

Airbnb, in a statement, hopes Budget 2021 will consider short-term accommodation (STA) too.

"Given the significant role short-term rental accommodation hosts play in driving Malaysia’s tourism industry, we recommend extending several key incentives dedicated for businesses in the tourism sector under the economic stimulus packages to hosts," the company said.

These incentives include the Penjana Tourism Fund facility, digital vouchers for domestic tourism and personal income tax relief be extended for STA bookings.
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Budget 2021 , MATTA , MAH , Airbnb


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