Move to hasten aid to tourism players

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s tourism industry players are not forgotten, as efforts are being taken by the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry to fast-track the implementation of the economic stimulus package for the industry.Its minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri said there was a RM200mil tourism recovery plan stimulus package under Budget 2021 that would benefit Malaysians as well as tourism players.

She added that the stimulus package would, among others, include discounts on tourism destinations, transportation, shopping and services, frontliners discount packages, family holiday package discounts and accommodation vouchers.

“The ministry has been given an allocation of RM200mil to implement the stimulus package under the Tourism Recovery Plan 2021.

“At the same time, we still have the stimulus allocation this year that we have not fully utilised. That is why we are discussing how to fast-track these to enable the industry to recover, ” she said during a media briefing yesterday.

When Budget 2021 was announced on Nov 6, tourism industry players lamented on the lack of allocation to help them.

However, Nancy pointed out that the RM200mil allocation was actually provided for them.

“It was just that this was not mentioned during the Budget 2021 speech by Finance Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz.

“I had meetings with industry players recently to explain that there was an allocation for them, ” she added.

Nancy also noted that if the RM200mil allocation was not enough for next year, she would request for more funds, adding that she would do all she could for the tourism sector.

She also pointed out that the allocation for the tourism sector was higher under Budget 2021 at RM1.140bil compared to last year’s at RM1.109bil.

Despite the tourism sector being

affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, Nancy said this period would be used to improve the infrastructure of tourism-related facilities as well as retraining and upskilling of tourism workers.

“The infrastructure budget is for the maintenance of facilities such as the RM20mil provided to maintain and promote the cultural villages in Terengganu, Sarawak, Melaka and Negri Sembilan, ” she said, adding that these buildings would be maintained so that people could fully enjoy these facilities once the situation returned to normal.

Nancy added that the retraining of tourism sector workers such as tour guides would also be focused on digitalisation with the emphasis on the Internet of Things.

She also said the ministry would continue with its promotional activities within Malaysia and abroad as it was important for people to be aware of great places in the country to visit.

“We have to remember and ensure that the Covid-19 cases are within our control. This is important because this will bring back the confidence of people to travel in our country. We must confidently demonstrate the SOP (standard operating procedure) that we are practising, ” she said.

While foreign tourists are still barred from travelling to Malaysia, Nancy said the ministry had carried out “think outside the box” plans to overcome this problem by proposing to the government to allow tourism economic activity to continue between green zones within the country.

Nancy said she welcomed Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s announcement on Monday that the government was considering allowing tourism activities between green zones in the country to resume.

“The Prime Minister had agreed through the National Security Council (MKN) that the country will allow travel bubbles within the country.

“The SOP is still being discussed and we hope that they would not take a long time to come out with it so that the tourism industry can resume.

“This is one of the ways that we are helping the tourism industry. We do not want them to be at the losing end, ” she added.

Nancy stressed that it was important for the people to adhere to the SOP whether they were in the car, outside their houses or even in restaurants to ensure that movement between people would not be restricted.

As other countries such as Thailand and Singapore have opened up their borders to foreign tourists albeit with strict SOP, Nancy said the ministry was “ever ready” to receive these tourists when the country’s borders reopened.

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