Hotels in Penang struggling to stay afloat

Tourists sightseeing along the heritage enclave in Armenian Street. - Filepic

GEORGE TOWN: Hotels in Penang are facing the possibility of a temporary or permanent closure in the next few weeks following the latest movement control order.

Malaysia Association of Hotels Penang chairman K. Raj Kumar said the situation looked extremely bleak for hoteliers as MCO 3.0 would last until June 7.

“It is too early to say which hotel would succumb to the impact but this could happen after the festive celebration, whether it’s temporary or permanent.

“The nationwide MCO took us by surprise as a lot of us are still sorting through many things.

“We have been suffering from continuous impact of the previous MCOs, ” he said.

Raj Kumar said that this year many hotels were running with two- to five-room occupancy daily and relying on the food and beverage business to cushion the losses.

“With no dining-in allowed now, our food and beverage businesses will be dead and even if hotels want to rely on room bookings, what business is there for us?

“With one or two room bookings for travellers on business, it will not contribute to anything, ” he added.

Raj Kumar said hoteliers were already at their wit’s end, and urged the state and federal governments to consider allowing hotels to offer dine-in with strict SOP.

“Statistics have shown that Covid-19 clusters have emerged mostly from factories and even if hotels did contribute to the numbers, the percentage is small.

“It shows that we have taken strict measures in ensuring SOP is followed. We appeal for dine-in to be considered, ” he added.

Raj Kumar also urged the state and federal governments to consider vaccinating at least 30% of those working in the hotel industry.

“This industry is important as well and if no attention is given to us, how would we recover and help the economy to bounce back?

“It’s fine if the government cannot vaccinate everyone in the industry. But at least consider those on the front lines like front office workers, housekeeping staff and food and beverage staff.

“It is important for the government to get the hoteliers involved in discussions to help us survive. If the tourism industry dies, a lot of people will be affected and we will lose a lot of things, ” he said.

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