Elections expected to bring smiles to travel and hotel industry

PETALING JAYA: Despite the gloomy skies of the monsoon season, the 15th General Election (GE15) is still expected to bring a ray of sunshine to the domestic travel and hospitality industry.

Even with predictions of a lower voter turnout due to political fatigue and the possibility of polling day being a weekday, domestic travel is expected to see a rise during the election period.

This is because party workers, election staff and voters will be on the ground, said Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents president Datuk Tan Kok Liang.

“Hotels, transport service providers, and food and beverage outlets can look forward to a significant rise in revenue,” he added.

Asked if there had been tour cancellations or changes in vacation dates by holidaymakers, Tan said this has not been the case as voting is not mandatory in Malaysia.

“Many families are going ahead with their overseas holidays regardless of the polling date, and international tours that had been booked earlier will likely proceed.

“Cancellations are minimal except for active politicians and party members who may have other responsibilities,” he said.

According to Melaka Tourism Association president Madelina Kuah, no bookings by independent travellers or group package tours have been cancelled so far.

She said that since Melaka had already held its state election in 2021, there were only six parliamentary seats up for grabs in GE15.

“On voting day, it is likely that people who have committed to travelling will go ahead,” said Kuah.

Sky Mirror Tour & Travel Sdn Bhd managing director Dyven Wong said people are waiting until the Election Commission (EC) announces the polling date before rescheduling travel plans.

“Until today, no customer has cancelled or postponed bookings because of GE15,” he said.

Political analyst Prof Dr Sivamurugan Pandian of Universiti Sains Malaysia expects voter turnout in this election to be lower than in GE14 in 2018, which was at 82.32%.

A low turnout will give an advantage to Barisan Nasional, he said, adding that the high turnout in GE14 saw Pakatan Harapan form the government for the first time, while low turnouts at the Melaka and Johor state elections secured big wins for Barisan Nasional.

“It is very likely that many Malaysians will not come back to vote unless political parties can convince them,” said the professor.

Prof Sivamurugan also said a low turnout could also be expected if GE15 is held on a weekday, adding that this is nothing new.

“The last GE was held on a Wednesday. In fact, our first GE after independence in 1959 was held on a Wednesday; GE9 on a Tuesday; and GE10 on a Monday.

“However, it’s better to have it on a weekend to encourage more voters to come out and vote,” he said, adding that Malaysian voters are also tired of the continuous politicking since 2018.

“A ‘wow’ or feel-good factor will motivate them to come out, but it all depends on issues brought up by the parties and candidates,” he said.

The EC will meet on Thursday to set nomination and polling dates.

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