The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) is urging the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture to have the Fourth Schedule of the Tourism Industry Act 1992 be amended or be revoked altogether.
“The Fourth Schedule contains a section entitled “Travelers Outbound Terms and Conditions” and was issued on Feb 18 2000. There have been no change to the Fourth Schedule despite repeated calls by industry stakeholders to do so. The outdated terms and conditions are problematic instead of helping businesses and travelers,” says MATTA president, Tan Kok Liang.
“Consumers and suppliers are adequately governed by the Contracts Act, Trade Descriptions Act and Consumer Protection Act. Moreover, tourism service suppliers are from a large array of diverse industries that include airlines, hotels, theme parks, cruises and other tourism services operating in different countries and subject to their own local laws,” Tan added.
According to MATTA, over the past six years, MATTA, BUMITRA Malaysia and the Malaysian Chinese Tourism Malaysia (MCTA) had submitted detailed proposals to amend antiquated terms and conditions in the Fourth Schedule and has had a series of meetings with the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC), however no solution has been issued to resolve the matter.
MATTA believes that it would be better to revoke than amend the Fourth Schedule, as many things are beyond control as matters such as the Covid-19 has caused panic resulting in mass cancellations.
Earlier today, the World Health Organisation has officially announced the COVID-19 a pandemic.
Tan believes that it is counterproductive for MOTAC to micromanage holiday contracts between travel agents and customers by imposing the same terms and conditions on services delivered by diverse tourism sectors and different countries, each having their own rules and policies for cancellations, postponements, re-routings and refunds.
Following the Covid-19 outbreak, the Fourth Schedule has placed travels agents in quandary as they are now exposed to potential liability of around RM 500 million from customers seeking compensation, regardless of cancellation and refund policies of various service providers.
“This is because many customers are only looking at the minimum administrative fee allowed in the Fourth Schedule, which is RM 30 or two percent of the tour fare and ignoring the fact that all or a substantial portion of payments forwarded to airlines and hotels have been forfeited according to their cancellation policies,” Tan says.
Tan also pointed out that while the economic stimulus package was comprehensive, there were no incentives for airlines or travel agents, further urging for higher tax relief for corporate companies organising training sessions at domestic destinations.
MATTA is currently in discussion with airlines, both local and international as well as travel agencies in order to express leniency when it comes to cancellations.