PETALING JAYA: Tourism industry players are advised not to hit the panic button in the wake of the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak even if the situation has adversely affected their turnover.
Former Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) president Tunku Datuk Seri Iskandar Tunku Abdullah (pic) said influenza kills more than 80,000 people annually even without the emergence of newly discovered viruses.
"Hang in there. The crisis will be over. Just like SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome). The pent-up demand after the crisis is over will be quite significant," said the former Matta president on Thursday (Feb 13).
The SARS outbreak killed 774 people in 2002 and 2003.
Tunku Iskandar - who was honoured with the Matta Tourism Icon Award last year - advised fellow industry players not to resort to extreme measures such as shutting down operations or laying off workers.
"They (the industry players) can take measures to cut costs, such as reducing salaries. But don't resort to retrenching workers or shutting down businesses," he said.
Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific airline had already directed its staff to go on a three-week no-pay leave following mass cancellation of flight bookings, he said.
"I hope our local airlines, MAS, Malindo and AirAsia would not resort to that (asking staff to go on an unpaid leave).
"They can look into flying to alternative destinations," he said.
He said tour operators affected by mass inbound cancellations could look into promoting domestic tourism.
The Mitra Malaysia Sdn Bhd group president was speaking to newsmen after launching its e-swift platform for their wholesale travel agents to make travel arrangements anywhere, any time, and on any device.
Mitra Malaysia celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.
Dr Nathalie MacDermott of King's College London was quoted in the media as saying that the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV) had verified that the new coronavirus discovered in Wuhan, China, was the same species as SARS but of a different strain.
"The ICTV have named the new virus SARS coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).
"And Covid-19 is the name of the disease or illness the virus causes," she was quoted as saying in foreign mainstream media.