PETALING JAYA: Tourism players, including hotels, are calling on the government to lift the inter-district and interstate travel ban to prevent more operators from losing their rice bowl.
“The reopening of zoos, theme parks and tourist sites during the movement control order period does not make sense when the travel ban is still on, ” said Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) president Datuk Tan Kok Liang.
“It looks good on paper but in reality, it is meaningless because operators continue to incur operational losses with low business volume.”
He said the travel ban had hit tourism players hard and more operators would fold up if restrictions prolong.
“I don’t think the whole economic sector and tourism business can take another travel ban. For tourism business, it is as good as dead right now, ” he said.
With their core tourism markets like Kuala Lumpur, Selangor and Penang still under MCO, Tan said opening up tourism activities in other states would not help much.
“The government should ease travel restrictions and emphasise more stringent SOP, ” he said.
Tan also called on the government to look into the possibility of reopening the country’s border with the vaccination programme being rolled out to balance life and livelihood.
Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) chief executive Yap Lip Seng said: “It is meaningless for tourism stakeholders to operate while interstate and inter-district travel is not allowed.”
He said the uncertainties also made it impossible for holidaymakers to plan a local getaway.
“The travel restrictions, ” he said, “also give the impression that it is not safe to travel, although the tourism and hotel industry has always complied with SOP.”
The hotel industry, he added, even set stricter SOP, aside from the basic requirements imposed by health authorities.
Yap said the government should consider allowing interstate travel for low-risk travellers and imposing screening at state borders, followed by vaccinated travellers in the near future.
Malaysian Inbound Tourism Association (MITA) president Uzaidi Udanis said Malaysians should explore their own backyard.
“For example, I lived in Ampang and there are many recreational activities at Kemensah or the Pisang waterfall near Gombak. Do you also know there is also a sunflower park in Perak?” he said.
Uzaidi, who is also Malaysia Tourism Council president, said people could find many fascinating activities and destinations in their local districts.
“While tourism operators hope that people can travel and boost economic activities again, they have to see the big picture of being safe with movement restrictions, ” he said.