Govt must provide specific tourism stimulus package, urge industry players

  • Nation
  • Friday, 29 May 2020

Sabah Association of Tour and Travel Agents (SATTA) president Datuk Seri Winston Liaw

KOTA KINABALU: The government must put in place a special stimulus package for the tourism industry to recover amid closures of hotels and other related businesses in the country.

“At least 80% of the budget hotels are still not operating for business.

“If there are no stimulus packages focusing on the tourism industry, more hotels will shut down by August and September this year once the six-month moratorium expires (on loans), ” said Sabah Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Satta) president Datuk Winston Liaw (pic).

In Sabah, there are about 28,000 rooms from five-star to budget hotels and all were badly hit by the current slowdown following the Covid-19 pandemic and movement control order (MCO).

Liaw said the government stimulus package could consider issuing cash vouchers of RM300 to RM500 to be given to consumers to use for various tourism products.

“These vouchers can be used in tourism sectors, for example to book hotels, to book domestic tours and these vouchers should have expiry dates that last no longer than six to nine months, ” he said.

Liaw said providing vouchers was a better option compared to cash handouts as many might not use it for tourism purposes, as they may prefer to save the money.

“If vouchers are issued with an expiry date, the person will make sure it is spent within the stipulated time frame, ” he added.

He said it was important for the tourism industry not only in Sabah, but the nation to get the much-needed help from the government.

“The tourism industry players now are all looking at the government and how it can play a role in stimulating the industry, ” he added.

A five-star hotel in Sandakan ceased operations two weeks ago and is now among a number of hotels that have either closed or temporarily ceased operations in Sabah since the Covid-19 pandemic crashed the tourism sector.

Tourism is Sabah’s third largest revenue earner and many of the tourism related companies have either ceased or temporarily halted operations amid large number of retrenchment, pay cuts or no-pay leave hitting workers in the sector.

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