Don’t just compare diesel prices of neighbouring countries, say bus operators

KUALA LUMPUR: Following the move to increase rental prices of tour buses by up to 20% starting June 17, bus operators are appealing to the public to understand their predicament.

Anticipating backlash from both travel service providers and consumers on the price hike, Malaysian Bumiputra Tourism Operators Association president Mohd Imraan Mohd Noor says the argument that Malaysia's current diesel prices, even unsubsidised, are more competitive than those in neighbouring countries should be viewed in a broader context.

“While it is true that RM3.35 per litre is lower compared to other South-East Asian countries, diesel cost shouldn't be the sole factor to consider,” he said during a press conference at Corus Hotel on Friday (June 14).

Citing a comparison between Malaysia and Thailand, he said that there are many factors contributing to attractive and affordable travel packages.

“For example, their bus driver salary is lower, bus spare parts are cheaper, there are fewer tolls, and the general cost of living is much lower than in Malaysia.

“So the argument that the higher diesel price wouldn’t affect tourism is invalid. It’s not a direct effect, but a chain of price hikes, which ultimately ends with the tourists themselves.

“Bus operators who already have contracts with airlines when diesel prices were cheaper also can't increase their fees. They are left with two choices – fulfilling contracts and risk operating a business at a loss, or pull out from the deal and pay hefty compensation fees,“ he said.

The Malaysian Inbound Tourism Association will allow bus operators to increase the rental prices of travel buses by up to 20% while waiting for a decision on the subsidised diesel appeal.

Its president, Leon Hoon Min, says that after a discussion with bus operating associations, it was agreed that the price hike would be implemented on June 17 to cope with the higher unsubsidised diesel price.

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