THE Government needs to come up with an enhanced and targeted rescue plan for the tour and travel agents as the recent movement control order (MCO) returns, putting the travel industry back at risk.
According to the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) president Datuk Tan Kok Liang, tour and travel agents have already been facing an uphill battle with collapsing revenue and liquidity problems since the pandemic first started.
He reminded the Government that tour and travel agents are essential to Malaysia’s economy as they significantly contribute to the country’s inbound traffic in terms of leisure and business travellers.
“The tourism industry plays an important part towards the national GDP. In 2019, it generated RM240 bil or 15.9% of the national gross domestic product (GDP),” Tan said, adding that the COVID-19 pandemic has badly affected the tourism industry since then.
As a solution, he suggested for the Government to provide an extension on loan moratoriums and enhanced wage subsidy programmes un June 30, 2021.
Apart from that, he also suggested for relief on rental, insurance and statutory licencing fees.
“We also urge travel businesses to go for consolidation and mergers. Over 5,000 travel companies are now in critical condition and the Government needs to initiate rehabilitation programmes before the situation gets worse.
“Allowing travel agents to close business premises and operate from home and the cancellation of the mandatory Travel & Tours Enhancement Course (TTEC) programs for travel companies are good gestures of support,” he said.
Additionally, MATTA expressed its disappointment that the Government did not allocate funds for re-skilling programmes of tourism workers in Budget 2021.
The tourism sector has been burdened by bureaucracy and over-governance affecting the industry’s regional and global competitiveness. Overlapping jurisdictions by multiple government agencies has stifled the industry over the many years.
“It is no longer ‘business as usual’ under the COVID-19 pandemic and we urge the various government agencies to make immediate policy changes to ease the financial burden of the hardest hit industry in Malaysia,” concluded Tan. – Jan 14, 2021