KUALA LUMPUR: The tourism industry is expected to begin its recovery phase in the second quarter of next year after being hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, says Datuk Nancy Shukri.
The Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister told the Dewan Rakyat that the government had adopted various measures to stimulate and revive the tourism industry.
"That is our prediction and we have introduced various programmes and measures so it can recover swiftly.
"We can also see signs of recovery when hotels have begun its operations with an occupancy rate of between 75% to 100% based on the information from the Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) and others," she said in reply to a supplementary question from Muhammad Bakhtiar Wan Chik (PH-Balik Pulau) who asked the ministry to reveal when the tourism industry will recover from the Covid-19 pandemic on Wednesday (July 15).
Muhammad Bakhtiar, who was the former deputy tourism, arts and culture minister, then stood up to dispute the hotel occupancy figures, saying that it is only about 31% on average.
Nancy chided Muhammad Bakhtiar, saying that the ministry received daily and monthly figures on the matter.
"We received the official figures and not you," she said.
To the initial question, she revealed that international tourist arrivals and spending in Malaysia could fall by 75% compared to the previous year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
She said the ministry had estimated that the local tourism industry had suffered a total loss of RM45bil as of June this year.
From the total, the ministry projected a total loss of about RM31bil from the international travel sector while the domestic segment is expected to lose about RM13bil.
"Based on the statistics from our ministry, the international tourist spending recorded a decline of 41.5% to RM21.5bil last year to RM12.5bil between the period of January and March this year," Nancy told Datuk Ahmad Nazlan Idris (BN-Jerantut), who asked the ministry to reveal the losses recorded by local industry players due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
"Without the arrivals of international tourists into the country, the ministry projects that the arrival and spending of this year will further decline by 75% compared to 2019," she explained.
She said that the local industry players related to hotels, travel, shopping, food and beverages, meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions were hit the hardest.
Nancy also noted that the government was focusing its efforts to revive the local industry through a Tourism and Culture Recovery Plan under the ministry.
Meanwhile, Nancy said the government had allowed the local sector to resume as normal since June 10.
"This will allow domestic tourism players including hotels, homestay and tour operators to resume activities which were halted previously," she said in reply to a question from Abdul Latiff Abdul Rahman (PAS-Kuala Krai) during Question Time.
Abdul Latiff had asked the ministry to state the plans adopted by the ministry to show that Malaysia continues to be a safe destination amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.
Nancy said the government had provided various initiatives to revive the industry including incentives under the Prihatin Economic Stimulus Package and the National Economic Recovery Plan (Penjana)