It’s not fuel cost tour bus operators worry about


I WAS surprised by the report “Mita allows 20% hike in rental of tour buses” (The Star, June 15; online at bit.ly/4bd3YNy).

The Malaysia Inbound Tourism Association (Mita) is one of the seven trade associations that companies licensed under “Tour Operating Business and Travel Agency Business” regulations must join as a member, as mandated by the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry. As I understand it, like other travel associations, Mita has no authority to allow or disallow price increases for services such as daily or hourly charters, airport transfers, or overland trips.

Moreover, rates for all of the above are not fixed or regulated. Tour bus operators are free to choose the type and quality of vehicles they wish to operate and set prices they deem appropriate.

However, if some or all Mita members were to standardise tour bus rates and increase them in unison with rising costs, it would go against the Competition Act 2010.

Also, it will backfire as customers could easily turn to tour bus operators that are members of the other six travel associations: Malaysia Association of Tour and Travel Agents, Association of Bumiputera Tourism Operators of Malaysia, Malaysian Chinese Tourism Association, Malaysian Indian Tour and Travel Association, Car Rental Association of Malaysia, and Persatuan Agensi Pelancongan Umrah and Haji.

Earlier, Mita had claimed that tour bus operators could incur additional costs of RM200 to RM300 a day; while this is correct, the public might misunderstand and believe the additional costs are on a per bus basis when it is actually for an entire fleet.

In truth, fuel prices are the least of the worries of tour bus operators. Their main concerns about expenditure fall under two major categories: fixed and operating costs.

For example, if the total cost for a new tour bus is RM75,600, then depreciation costs are RM75,600 a year, RM6,300 a month and around RM210 per day, regardless if the vehicle is running or parked.

Just like hotel operators are focused on occupancy, tour bus operators concentrate on utilisation. Both businesses adjust room rates and charter fees to keep their rooms occupied or buses running, as they could gain additional revenue from food and beverage spending by visitors or shopping commissions.

Granted, tourism industry players would like to see hotels and tour buses placed under the essential services category, as both contribute greatly to the country’s economy. But with the desire to cut fuel subsidies and reduce the smuggling of subsidised fuel, more essential services such as stage and express buses are rightly included in the targeted subsidy plan.

YS CHAN

Kuala Lumpur

The letter writer is an Asean

tourism master trainer

and tourism and transport

business consultant.

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subsidies , economy , fuel , diesel , tourism

   

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