PETALING JAYA: It will be a delicate balancing act for stakeholders in the tourism sector, at least for the next 12 months.
While they begin receiving visitors, both domestic and foreign, they have to ensure that they do not trigger a new wave of infections.
Under the recovery movement control order (RMCO), Malaysians are now permitted to travel freely across the country, and hoteliers are hoping that this will help the sector recover from the economic fallout caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
For hotels, domestic tourists account for about 55% of business, according to Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) chief executive Yap Lip Seng. Foreigners account for the remaining 45% of their guests.
To woo visitors, hotels are offering special deals and packages specifically for the domestic market. Rates have been lowered and there is added value for room stays.
The more creative ones are throwing in flexible check-ins and a 24-hour turnaround.
“This gives travellers more time to enjoy their stay,” Yap said.
In-room entertainment and “all-in” experience packages are also in demand for guests who want to maximise their stays without exposing themselves to Covid-19.
However, hotels are not expecting a surge in tourist arrivals yet.
“We are still in ‘survival mode’. The earnings from the domestic market is just to cushion the losses from the impact of the health crisis.”
Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents president Datuk Tan Kok Liang expects the industry to see a slow recovery.
“Against a backdrop of economic recession and (reduced) consumer confidence, it will be a late comeback,” he said, adding that affordable air fares can help to boost the travel trade locally.”