Time to Cuti Cuti in Malaysia

PETALING JAYA: Hotels and tour agents are offering discounts to Malaysians travelling within the country in a move to revive the local tourism industry.

Industry players said they were targeting those planning to travel during the school holidays. Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) chief executive officer Yap Lip Seng said many hotels were offering special packages and room rates for Malaysians who want to go on holiday as the country's borders are still closed to foreign tourists.

Yap said a recent survey by MAH of 402 hotels showed that the average daily room rate was expected to drop by 27% in the next six months, even in popular destinations such as Langkawi, Penang and Melaka.

"Hotels are generally in a survival mode with massive cost management initiatives being carried out and various promotions launched to entice the domestic market," he said yesterday.

He said that hotels in the country had a 55% market dependency on local tourists.

Still, there is concern that Malaysians are wary of travelling while Covid-19 is still around.

Yap said hotels were expecting to see a rise in demand in the fourth quarter of the year.

"(We expect) an overall slow but steady growth until 2021. This could indicate the population is slowly getting used to the new norms and will travel as long as they are financially able," he added.

He said business travellers and couples would be the first ones to start travelling again.

"The industry believes that there has been accumulated interest and a need to travel, and these two main groups will be the first to do so."

A check by The Star showed a host of promotions and discounts on hotel rooms in popular tourist destinations in Malaysia, with many targeting Malaysians and foreigners already in the country.

Budget hoteliers, however, said the discounts offered were at the expense of operators to fill occupancy.

Malaysia Budget Hotel Association (MyBHA) deputy president Dr Sri Ganesh Michiel said many budget hotels were seeing better occupancy rates but were not earning much from the big discounts offered to attract travellers.

"This will affect their sustainability. Some of them are not breaking even," he said.

Sri Ganesh said budget hoteliers were not targeting any holiday season but were relying on staycations.

Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) president Datuk Tan Kok Liang said they were targeting locals to travel during the school holidays.

He said this was the best opportunity to go on a critical campaign by working together with the airlines and hotels to rebrand themselves to make domestic travel not only safer but also better.

"Although domestic tourism is a key first step in tourism recovery, the government and industry must aim to quickly recapture inbound markets, especially since Malaysia  has the infrastructure to ensure tourist comfort and security," he said.