PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) has urged the Cabinet to declare an "all-out" war against Covid-19 by imposing a lockdown.
MATTA president Datuk Tan Kok Liang said instead of continuing with "protracted battles on a piecemeal basis", the government should have a lockdown.
"An all-out war requires the entire country to be locked down, and this is what many European nations have already done and more countries are expected to follow suit.
"The global outbreak of the Covid-19 has reached a scale where nations have to take bold and drastic measures," said Tan in a statement on Monday (March 16).
Tan said with the number of positive cases standing at 428, the initial response to contain the outbreak is no longer successful.
As such, more effective measures are needed to contain the spread of the virus.
Tan said a lockdown should provide sufficient notice and be clearly spelt out, and not perceived as 24-hour curfew, which will result in panic buying and hoarding.
Tan said mechanisms must also be in place to reduce unnecessary hardships to the rakyat, as well as remaining tourists still holidaying in Malaysia.
He, however, concluded that there is "little left to salvage" for the tourism industry.
"It would be better to press the reset button and start all over again on a clean slate by placing hygiene, safety and security as top priorities and restore confidence for holiday makers.”
“When our country is all set, Malaysia will be recognised as one of the safest destinations to visit and Malaysians too would be welcomed in many countries when the situation normalises.
"For countries that are proactive in dealing with this crisis, tourism may rebound as fast as it had plunged, while others that take piecemeal actions will somewhat find it difficult to rebound," he said.
Tan also said MATTA will defer its MATTA fairs scheduled in Kuala Lumpur and in various states until the situation returns to normalcy.
This would include the Cuti-Cuti Malaysia that was supposed to be held on April 4th and 5th, as well as the MATTA Fair Kuala Lumpur from May 1-3.
Tan said the Malaysia Travel Fair held recently at the Kuala Lumpur World Trade Centre last weekend was organised by a different association registered as Persatuan Agensi Pelancongan Malaysia, or Malaysia Association Tour Agency (MATA).
"It has nothing to do with the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) or MATTA Fairs”, said Tan.
Tan also reminded everyone to comply with the guidelines issued by the Health Ministry, such as adopting social distancing.
“Instead of endless running battles, it would be better to take the bull by the horns and it is an opportune time for the new government to rally the people together to fight and win this war.
"To rejuvenate our economy, we may have to start with a temporary lockdown," said Tan.