KOTA KINABALU: Malaysia's tourism industry has suffered an estimated RM3bil in losses to date due to the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak.
Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry secretary-general Datuk Noor Zari Hamat said industry players such as hoteliers, travel agents and food and beverage businesses had been severely impacted with cancellation of flights and trips.
"We are talking about everyone in the industry, from high-end resorts, all the way to the cottage industry.
All have been affected since January," he said on Wednesday (Feb 13) during the Tourism Recovery Action Committee (TRAC) town hall roadshow with local tourism industry players in Sabah.
A total of 312 representatives from tourism-related businesses participated in the event and raised concerns during a briefing.
Zari said due to the difficulties faced by the sector, they had to also look at ways to mitigate the impact, including asking the government to postpone introducing the minimum wage ruling this year.
"We've also met the Finance Ministry to discuss things like relaxing the (rules of) payments for hotels that have loans with banks," he added.
Meanwhile, Tourism Malaysia director-general Datuk Musa Yusof said besides focusing on other markets like Eastern Europe and Central Asia, they would also be intensifying efforts to boost domestic tourism.
"About 86% of hotel rooms in Malaysia are contributed by the domestic sector. We learned way back in the 1997 economic crisis that we cannot dismiss domestic tourism.
"The upcoming school holidays are something we should leverage on," he added.