Tourism and hospitality players hope for more help

PETALING JAYA: Tourism and hospitality players say the government’s stimulus package offers better support for businesses, but it needs to be re-evaluated in a few months to see if an extension is needed.

Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) president Datuk Tan Kok Liang said the most recent announcement had broadened the number of employers receiving government support.

“The wage subsidy, which now has more categories, provides better relief for more SMEs and tourism enterprises. It gives people more breathing space.

“However, we urge the government to reassess the situation in three months’ time and consider extending this because it is virtually impossible for the hospitality and tourism industry to recover in three months,” he said.

He said the companies leasing vehicles to tour transport operators should also follow Bank Negara’s six-month moratorium on loans.

Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) chief executive officer Yap Lip Seng, however, said the government’s subsidies for SMEs did not address industries that were directly impacted.

He said there should be a package specifically tailored for tourism stakeholders as the industry was more affected than other sectors.

“Our survey shows average occupancy levels dropping to 25% and less in the coming months and we do not expect it to improve at least for another six months.

“In 2019, the top three arrivals were Singaporeans, Indonesians and Chinese who comprise 64% of the total arrivals, and that is the minimum percentage of business we are losing for 2020,” he said.

Yap noted that hotels were not expected to make any profit with an occupancy rate lower than 40%, adding that the hotel industry in the country was not on track to even reach 30% this year.

“There are already reports of hotels closing down due to economic pressures, and more might be forced to do the same in the next few months,” he said.

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