Penang hotel industry will feel MCO pinch


GEORGE TOWN: Just as hotel occupancy in the state is slowly picking up, the announcement of movement control order (MCO) has thrown a spanner in the works for the industry.

Malaysian Association of Hotels national vice-chairman Khoo Boo Lim described the various levels of MCO imposed on the country as a “lose-lose situation”.

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“Hotels will suffer again. However, if the government does not impose such measures, the rising number of Covid-19 cases and the spread is alarming.

“I hope the people will really observe this MCO and do not abuse it. It is something painful we have to go through.

“We have to bite the bullet and I appeal to the people to be more disciplined. Hopefully, we will break the chain, bring the numbers down and the MCO will not be extended, ” he said.

Malaysia Association of Hotels (MAH) Penang Chapter chairman K. Raj Kumar said cancellation and postponement of hotel room bookings looked inevitable with the two-week MCO being enforced starting tomorrow.

Since restrictions were eased and recovery MCO was announced last November, hotels in Penang have recorded a constant increase in occupancy rate.

The Star reported that beach hotels on the island recorded almost 70% occupancy over the recent long weekends while those in George Town heritage enclave also recorded an average of 40% occupancy rate.

Those on the mainland were not left out either, with the take-up rate at 50% comprising mainly those who travelled here for business and work purposes.

Raj Kumar said with hotels enjoying vibrant business over the past few weeks, many of them had stocked up supplies and ingredients.

“Some fresh products will now go to waste, ” he said.

Raj said hoteliers expected the government to exercise a tighter standard operating procedure (SOP) on conditional MCO without barring movement of those who needed to travel for work or business.

“When businessmen are not allowed to travel, many industries will suffer, ” he said.

In a statement, Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow urged Penangites to accept the decision and cooperate.

“The state’s special safety committee will meet tomorrow (today) and refine the SOP for MCO. I urge everyone to stay calm and continue to abide by the SOP, ” he said.

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