KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) is committed to supporting the government’s efforts to contain the spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus and to look into recovery measures to mitigate the losses suffered by the tourism industry.

Its president, Datuk Tan Kok Liang, said in a series of meetings held over the last two days, MATTA together with key industry stakeholders had frank discussions with the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC) and the Ministry of Health (MOH) on the very real challenges faced by the industry and on ways to help the Malaysian tourism industry weather the storm.

In a statement issued by the tourism industry players association here today, Tan said: “MATTA has proposed forward-looking recovery measures which include preparations to vigorously promote Malaysia to China once it is safe for Chinese tourists to travel and to harness the power of big data to implement smart strategies that can be applied immediately to keep the Malaysian tourism industry robust and flexible.

“We applaud the firm and decisive action by the China government in containing the situation via their travel ban. We are also in full support of the Malaysian government’s efforts in containing the threat and the measures put in place.

“The number of China tourists travelling to other countries, including Malaysia, is bound to drop, and so is the number entering China. But for other parts of the world including this region, it should be business as usual.”

Tan also mentioned that the tourism industry would certainly be impacted by the fewer tourists from China, which is the world’s largest outbound market, but Malaysia has proven to be resilient as it had survived the spread of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003 and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in 2012.

Meanwhile, MATTA also called on hotels, airlines, tour operators and other service providers to be flexible in cancellation policies.

According to the statement, MATTA is working closely with the local authorities to ensure the safety and security of tourists and tourism frontliners, which is paramount as human lives come first.

It said local hotels and tour bus operators had stepped up hygiene and tourist guides were on the alert to look out for those displaying symptoms.

“We must also remember to treat Chinese tourists who are currently in Malaysia with dignity and accord them as much assistance as we can during this trying time.

“They are our guests and our hospitality and care will go a long way towards reinforcing Malaysia’s image as a trustworthy long-term tourism partner, not just to the Chinese but to nations the world over,” said MATTA honorary secretary-general Nigel Wong.

MATTA is confident in the Malaysian government’s preparations and readiness in handling the crisis and reiterated that Malaysia is safe for tourists. – Jan 29, 2020, Bernama

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