‘Risk based approach in travel restrictions the right step forward’

PETALING JAYA: Using a risk based approach rather than blanket travel restrictions will rejuvenate the domestic tourism industry, says Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) president Datuk Tan Kok Liang.

He said the association welcomed Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s announcement on this new approach as this is a positive step forward.

“Travel restrictions were the main crunch the industry was facing, ” he said.

Tan noted that the industry is also looking forward to the reopening of international borders following the rollout of the Pemerkasa initiatives.

He added that the special RM3,000 grant for more than 5,000 tour agencies registered with the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry (Motac) would also help those badly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We had asked for a RM10,000 grant when we met the tourism minister recently but RM3,000 was announced instead.

“However, it is still a step forward and a gesture of goodwill which we appreciate, ” he said.

He also welcomed the move by the government to widen the scope of special personal income tax exemption up to RM1,000 for tour packages made through tour agents registered with Motac.

He said the extension of the Wage Subsidy Programme by an additional three months would also help affected workers and employers in the sector recover.

Malaysian Inbound Tourism chief executive Uzaidi Udanis said the government, for the first time, was providing a one-off RM600 payment to homestay operators.

“It may be a token sum but it will have a direct impact on them, ” he said.

He described the extension of 10% electricity discount until June was also timely for homestay operators.

“Business for them will be very slow during this period as it will be the fasting month.

“The discount would help minimise their losses, ” Uzaidi said.

He added that efforts to open green lanes to allow international travel following the rollout of the vaccination programme was also a big relief.

“We are excited at the prospect of a new era of travel and we have to start planning now, ” he said.

Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) president Datuk N. Subramaniam was thankful for the benefits but said they were insufficient, particularly the electricity discount.

However, he also welcomed the government’s commitment to apply targeted approach to control the spread of Covid-19 instead of blanket movement control orders.

“This will allow more economic activities to take place within the targeted controls.

“Economic sectors will be able to better sustain on its own, a positive step ahead in living with Covid-19, ” he said.

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