THE Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) has presented a 37-point recommendation to the government to help the growth of the tourism industry.
Its president Datuk Tan Kok Liang said the recommendations to Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri were made in view of the uncertainties posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The prolonged closure of borders and restrictive domestic travel within Malaysia resulted in over 5,000 travel agents being badly hit and thousands of tourism vehicles left idle, he said.
“We urge the government to support the tourism sector now with ‘real action’ while we (the industry) make preparation for a stronger, more sustainable comeback, ” Tan said.
He added that the basic tourism industry infrastructure was so severely affected that recovery was becoming an increasingly uphill task.
“The travel and tourism industry is vital in any functioning economy and many governments have put extraordinary measures in place to try and protect these businesses.
“Immediate measures to revitalise the tourism industry will create a multiplier effect and bring relief to more than 510,000 establishments and SMEs in the various sub-sectors in the tourism sector, ” he added.
Among the 37 points by MATTA are:
> Providing liquidity and financial assistance to protect workers and SME travel agencies – such as to extend the duration of the wage subsidy programme, automatic loan moratorium by financial institutions and credit companies to travel agency companies, a one-off grant of RM10,000 to travel agency companies to defray essential payments, special loans and front office staff in travel agency companies and those employees dealing directly with tourists to be given priority in vaccination immunisation programme.
> Structural changes in government regulations and policy – such as to suspend issuance of new licences for travel agency companies for this period and to allow travel agency companies to operate from home and close office premises.
> To allow vehicles operated by inbound tour operators to be registered under e-hailing platforms, and to allow excursion or tour buses and vans to offer interstate services similar to express bus services.
> Training and education – such as upskilling and reskilling of industry practitioners.
> Digital platform – government support and funding for local online platforms.
> Promotion for the future – MATTA to help promote domestic tourism.
> Boosting travellers’ confidence – government to help implement health and safety accreditation and protocol standards to boost confidence for both local and international tourists.
> Tourism National Policy 2020-2030 – to plan and implement post Covid-19 travel under the new norm and roadmap for the next three years for tourism recovery, as well as to provide digital grant for tourism players in transforming their core business activities respectively towards further digitalisation of the industry.
Tan thanked Nancy for taking note of MATTA’s recommendations and looked forward to urgent assistance, support and collaboration with the ministry.