The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) has expressed their disappointment that the much-anticipated Budget 2021. The Association said the Budget has failed to provide solid relief programmes to protect jobs and tourism businesses and will not do much to help the tourism sector on its road to recovery.
MATTA President Tan Kok Liang says, “Given the vulnerable and fragile situation of the tourism industry, Budget 2021 does not take into consideration the welfare of 3.6 million workers in the field and SME tourism companies. Travel demands will continue to diminish with the ongoing travel restrictions until a vaccine is widely made available.”
MATTA further highlighted that the Budget has failed to meet the needs of tourism enterprises particularly SMEs and does not address the key issue of protecting jobs. “The wage subsidy programmes should have been enhanced to avoid continuing lay-offs and the loan moratorium should be extended up to June 2021 for tourism businesses.”
“The tourism industry, which is inclusive of components such as accommodation, travel agents, tour operators, transportation, food and beverage operators and many others contributes 15% of the nation’s GDP and is one of the top 5 in foreign exchange earners and employs more than 3.6 million people,” he added.
“The budget does not include any incentive to boost domestic tourism and is seen as inadequate to empower the tourism industry during these challenging times. The allocation of RM50 million for maintenance works and overhaul of tourism facilities is not enough to improve tourism products. The future outlook for the next 12 months is bleak and without the right support, we will inevitably see the industry contracting quickly & drastically.”
He further said that the Government should also include allocations for reskilling and training programmes not only for the aviation but the tourism industry as a whole.
Putrajaya has allocated RM50 million for retraining programmes for 8,000 airline staff and 500 jobs for Orang Asli and local communities to become tour guides in all national parks.
Special RM1,000 grant for traders, taxi drivers, e-hailing drivers and tour guides in Sabah.
“We cannot help but compare the state of tourism in our country to other countries like Singapore who have not only implemented practical and effective stimuli but are already making headway in the controlled re-opening of borders and therefore the revival of their tourism industry.”
“The Budget 2021 has not managed to address the industry’s fundamental needs and we urge the Government to reassess the support for the tourism industry in order to harness the potential of the industry to generate jobs and growth and continue to contribute to the economy”, concluded Tan.
The Human Resource Development Fund will also levy exemptions for companies in the tourism sector and those still affected by the pandemic for six months.