Kuala Lumpur: Many of the initiatives outlined in the Pemerkasa Plus aid package can help tourism players, particularly travel agents, stay afloat during this time of crisis, says the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA).
"Foremost is the push for the rollout of the vaccination programme for the rakyat, which will help pave the way to a quicker re-opening of borders and revive tourism and all related economic sub sectors.
"We have written to the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme coordinating minister to fast track the vaccination programme for workers in the tourism industry," said association president Datuk Tan Kok Liang.
As can be seen by several other countries, the success of their vaccination programmes have resulted in these countries being able to reopen their borders to international travel, he added.
He also cited the rehabilitation programme for tour buses, a move that Tan said MATTA has been calling on the government to make since the early stages of the pandemic.
"We are thankful that the government has taken the bold decision to intervene on behalf of bus owners as the previous moratoriums did not apply to leasing companies.
"MATTA estimates that its members alone own more than 9,000 vehicles classified as Bas Pesiaran (tour bus), many of which were purchased from credit and leasing companies.
"To put into context, a 40-seater tour bus costs between RM490,000 to RM580,000 - a debt which is impossible to service given these trying times, and has the potential of crippling the tourism ecosystem if not dealt with swiftly and decisively," he added.
MATTA also called on the extension of the moratorium and wage subsidy programme to be extended until Dec 31.
"This extension should also apply to the contribution to the Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF). The exemption of late payment charges and renewal of license to the Commission of Companies (SSM) and deferment of penalties for payment of outstanding tax to the Internal Revenue Board (LHDN) is another practical move that will help companies during this period," said Tan.
MATTA is also appealing to the government to approve further assistance to travel agencies with a grant of RM10,000 each to help them cover fixed costs and other overheads.
"Travel agencies, in particular, have been one of the hardest hit businesses, many of which are trying desperately to stay afloat by turning to alternative businesses which do little to improve the situation for the company and its more than 47,000 direct employees.
"Finally, we applaud the announcement that all ministers and deputy ministers are not taking their salary for three months, and that this money be channeled towards the Covid-19 fight. This is indeed a positive contribution, a 'walk-the-talk' commitment by the Cabinet," said Tan.