No polls boost for hotels

PETALING JAYA: The rise of homestays and Airbnb lodgings has affected bookings for budget hotels, even in the last general election, although a full house is expected for nomination and polling days, say industry players.

Hoteliers said the occupancy rates dropped during the 14th General Election (GE14) in 2018, with many party members and supporters of political parties staying at homestays instead.

They added that before GE14, business for the hotel industry was excellent during elections.

But as Airbnb and homestays became popular, supporters and members of political parties started to opt for alternative accommodations, they added.

Malaysia Budget and Business Hotel Association (MyBHA) president Dr Sri Ganesh Michiel said small and medium-sized hotels had recorded good business during past elections.

“Political party members and supporters prefer to check in at business hotels with reasonable rates instead of staying in four or five-star hotels during the period,” he said.

He said that with election day approaching, hotel occupancy was still not as good as expected.

“Before GE14, our hotel business was good.

“At the moment, hotel rooms in some states are full on GE15’s nomination and polling days,” he said.

Sri Ganesh said that hotels in constituencies without many non-hotel accommodations were the only ones seeing bookings, with apartments being rented for campaign work.

He urged those from outstation involved in elections stay in hotels instead of unregulated premises.

Airbnb remains unregulated in Malaysia.

MyBHA Johor chairman Jarod Chia said during the state polls earlier this year, hotels received bookings from political parties, but they had not seen the same for GE15 yet.

He, however, expected occupancy to increase substantially since election month coincided with the school holidays.

“We expect the hotel occupancy rate in Johor in November and December to be at 70% to 80%,” he added.

He said most hotels in Johor would likely be fully booked on nomination and polling days, especially those located close to the political parties’ operational centres.

Chia also said many illegal hotel operators were operating without a licence and likely not declaring their income.

“This is unfair to hoteliers (with proper licences),” he said.

MyBHA Penang chairman Andy Lau, meanwhile, said the hotel occupancy rate in the state had not increased significantly.

“We have yet to see large bookings. Usually, party members in Penang will stay at home, and only the party leaders travel nationwide,” he said, adding that hoteliers in the state didn’t expect the election to boost business.

Polling day for GE15 will be on Nov 19, with nomination day on Nov 5.

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