The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) and key industry stakeholders held a series of talks with the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture Malaysia (MOTAC), Ministry of Health (MOH) and Tourism Malaysia to address the significant impact on tourism due to the coronavirus crisis.
According to Datuk Tan Kok Liang, President of MATTA, recovery measures have been proposed which include increasing promotion and marketing initiatives for domestic and inbound tourism by easing the criteria and requirements for matching grants under Galakan Melancong Malaysia (GAMELAN Malaysia) and to review the Tourism tax (TTX) rate.
“We have to correct the misconception that Malaysia is not safe, encourage cross border tourism, and ease visa requirements especially for Indian tourists to cover the shortfall of tourists from China, Tan said. It is also important to harness the power of big data to implement retargeting and other smart strategies which can be applied immediately to keep the Malaysian tourism industry robust and flexible during this crisis.”
“The various Ministries could reduce or waive contributions and taxes such as those mandatory for the Employees Provident Fund, Human Resources Development Fund, tourism tax, road tax, and fees for various company licences and vehicle permits. Financial institutions could give out special loans, reduce interest rates or allow deferment in loans repayment as tour buses are idled more often than running,” he added.
When asked about the government’s plan to stimulate the economy, Tan said that MATTA is hopeful that the soon to be announced economic stimulus package will far exceed the RM8.1 billion growht plan rolled out in 2003 to help Malaysians mitigate the impact of the SARS outbreak, or the RM60 billion stimulus package announced in 2009 to invigorate vital sectors in the face of the global economic downturn.
“The hotel industry is looking forward to initiatives proposed in the recent TRAC meeting and is ready to support for the betterment of tourism. More importantly we are confident on the combination of government policies and private sectors’ efforts in preventing the spread of the 2019-nCoV novel coronavirus, and Malaysia remains safe for tourists,” said Kamaruddin Baharin, President of MAH.
The tourism industry which employs more than 3.5 million people (23.5 percent of our nation’s total employment) is critical to our nation’s economy and wellbeing.
The travel sector which includes tour and transport operators provides vital links for all tourism services but are now in dire straits and in urgent need of aid.