‘Allocation not enough to empower tourism industry’

PETALING JAYA: Local tourism operators have described Budget 2021, which they hoped would revive the sector badly hit by Covid-19, as having fallen short of their expectations.

Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) president Datuk Tan Kok Liang said the allocation under the Budget was “inadequate to empower the tourism industry”.

“Given the vulnerable and fragile situation of the industry, Budget 2021 does not take into consideration the welfare of 3.6 million workers and SME tourism companies.

“It is inevitable to see the industry contracting drastically,” he said.

Tan urged affected tourism workers to look for employment in other industries under the employment and re-skilling initiatives proposed in the Budget.

Malaysian Association Of Hotels CEO Yap Lip Seng said he was deeply concerned by the lack of immediate assistance for industry players.

“There was little mention of sustaining tourism businesses other than the extension of the wage subsidy scheme at the same amount of RM600 per employee per month,” he said.

Welcoming the exemption for HRDF levy for six months, the wage subsidy, said Yap, was insufficient as the hospitality industry had lost almost 80% of its business amid the pandemic.

“Without higher cash assistance to businesses and leaving loan moratorium at the discretion of the financial institutions and commercial banks, industry stakeholders are left stranded and will be forced to make difficult decisions as well as take drastic actions to survive,” he said.Malaysia Tourism Council president Uzaidi Udanis said many small tour companies would not benefit from the announced incentives.

However, he lauded the government’s initiatives to promote ecotourism and heritage tourism.

“This would create new job opportunities for those in tourism segments,” he said, adding that operators should also consider the digitalisation of their businesses.

Budget 2021 also allocated RM35mil – up from RM25mil last year – to the Malaysia Healthcare Tourism Council to promote the country’s medical tourism industry.

Also announced was RM50mil allocation for the maintenance of tourism facilities nationwide.

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