We need more, hotel groups plead

PETALING JAYA: Local hotels are unhappy with what they call a limited fund allocation, which they say fails to deliver aid to the struggling industry.

The Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) said the government’s allocation of RM250mil to promote the tourism industry is insufficient to meet the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry’s target of achieving more than 16 million tourist arrivals and RM49.2bil revenue for this year.

It said the allocation constitutes less than 0.6% of the expected receipts.

“Additionally, the blanket method of allocation for the tourism industry may not fully reach struggling sectors and address the industry’s needs,” it said in a statement yesterday, adding that there are no provisions to aid the recovery of the struggling hospitality industry.

MAH said hotels in the country have already faced an electricity tariff hike since early this year, which has led to a significant increase in operational costs.

“The sector also has to cope with a higher minimum wage and fewer work hours; as the hospitality sector is very labour-intensive, our industry is vulnerable to the (minimum wage) legislation and has been especially affected by it, further stymieing our recovery.”

The association has proposed several measures to the government to address the industry’s plight.

This includes introducing a moratorium for the new electricity tariffs for hotels, theme parks and convention centres until the end of 2023, and providing a stimulus package for hotels via one-off financial aid or continuous value-added programmes and a special tax allowance or deductions for hotel renovations and refurbishment.

Other suggestions are to expedite hotel applications for foreign workers, regulate short-term accommodations (STA) to ensure a level playing field and safety of guests, and collection of the tourism tax at the country’s entry points to guarantee all in-bound arrivals are taxed and not just those who choose to stay at legitimate hotels.

“MAH hopes that with the aid of the government, we can provide the patrons and tourists who visit us during Visit Malaysia Year 2025 the best Malaysian hospitality experience we can offer,” it added.

In Sibu, the Sarawak chapter of MAH said the revised Budget 2023 lacked the “wow” factor.

Its chairman, John Teo, said the RM250mil allocated for the tourism industry will not be sufficient in further assisting industry players that have been hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic since 2020.

He also said that of the total RM388.1bil allocated under Budget 2023, Sarawak had been given only RM5.6bil.

“It will depend very much on how the Sarawak government, especially its MPs, fight for so many ‘sick projects’ that are still awaiting additional funding from the Federal Government,” he said in a statement yesterday.

He added that there are 340 sick projects in the state, as announced by Sarawak Deputy Premier Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas on Jan 30.

Sarawak, said Teo, needs funds for the Pan Borneo Highway to be completed by this year and Miri Airport to be upgraded to handle a capacity of three million passengers.

“The present volume has surpassed the 2.439 million passengers recorded in 2019 before the pandemic struck,” he added.

On Friday, the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) said the funds allocated to the industry are inadequate to help it face global economic uncertainty and inflationary pressures.

MATTA president Datuk Tan Kok Liang also said the funding for Visit Malaysia Year 2025 is insufficient, taking into account the government’s target of achieving 23.5 million tourist arrivals and tourism receipts of RM76.8bil.

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