‘Regulation of short-term stays, travel not within ministry purview’

Abdul Karim: Ministry working hard to draw more tourists to Sarawak.

Regulation of short-term rental accommodation and online travel agencies in Sarawak does not fall under Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts Ministry, its minister says.

Datuk Seri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said the licensing of accommodation providers was under the local government while travel agencies were licensed by Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry at the federal level.

“We will look into unlicensed accommodation providers if the matter is really serious.

“We have discussed this but it is for the local authorities to look into this matter.

“As far as my ministry is concerned, we want to make sure that the number of visitors goes up and that those who come here feel happy with what we have to offer,” he told reporters in Kuching.

Abdul Karim was responding to Malaysia Budget and Business Hotel Association (MyBHA) president Sri Ganesh Michiel’s call for his ministry to assist budget hotel operators in Sarawak in ensuring business sustainability.

In a statement, Sri Ganesh said budget hotels would resort to raising room rates only if the authorities did not address threats to the industry.

He said unresolved issues included the failure to regulate online travel agencies and short-term rental accommodation operating without business licences that affected licensed hotel operators.

“We would like to emphasise that we have no intention of indiscriminately raising budget hotel prices.

“We will continue to support the state government’s ambition to attract a high volume of tourists, but the government must ensure that registered and licensed tourism or hospitality industry entrepreneurs are the ones benefitting from tourist arrivals,” added Sri Ganesh.

Abdul Karim said his ministry was working hard to draw more tourists to Sarawak, and this included organising over 200 events annually.

He said the increase in visitor arrivals would benefit the budget hotel industry, even at existing room rates, and advised against price increases.

“Don’t raise the rates when there are a lot of visitors; it will not help the industry.

“When there are so many tourists coming in, the occupancy rate will also increase.”

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