MATTA, hotel operators are one unhappy lot with 2021 Budget

KUALA LUMPUR: Not everybody is happy or satisfied with the 2021 Budget.

Hotel operators and tours and travel agents said they were disappointed with the national budget for "lacking immediate assistance" for the tourism sector.

Malaysia Association of Hotels (MAH) said the budget had fallen short of tourism industry's expectations.

"The industry, however, acknowledges initiatives and allocations announced for public healthcare as well as to ease hardship of B40 and disabled persons," MAH said in a statement yesterday.

"The tourism and hotel industry are deeply concerned with the lack of immediate assistance to stakeholders forced under heavy cash flow burden due to travel restrictions both international and domestic," it added.

It said Malaysia's hotel occupancy had fallen to an unprecedented low of five per cent in March when the Movement Control Order was implemented.

The occupancy, however, slowly picked up and peaked over the National Day weekend at 42 per cent, at a compromise of room rates.

"Discounts and promotions introduced by hotels to capture domestic tourism market contributed to a drop of average daily hotel room rates of between 30 per cent and 70 per cent," MAH added.

The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) said the budget had failed to provide solid relief programmes to protect jobs and tourism businesses.

MATTA added that the budget would not do much to help the tourism sector on its road to recovery.

"Given the vulnerable and fragile situation of the tourism industry, the 2021 Budget does not take into consideration the welfare of 3.6 million workers in the field and SME tourism companies," Matta president Datuk Tan Kok Liang said in a statement.

"Travel demands will continue to diminish with the ongoing travel restrictions until a vaccine is widely made available."

Tan added that the budget did not address the key issue of protecting jobs.

"The wage subsidy programmes should have been enhanced to avoid continuing lay-offs and the loan moratorium should be extended up to June 2021 for tourism businesses."

"The tourism industry, which is inclusive of components such as accommodation, travel agents, tour operators, transportation, food and beverage operators and many others contributes 15 per cent of the nation's gross doemstic product and is one of the top five in foreign exchange earners and employs more than 3.6 million people."

He also said the budget did not include any incentive to boost domestic tourism and was seen as inadequate to empower the tourism industry during the challenging times.

"The allocation of RM50 million for maintenance works and overhaul of tourism facilities is not enough to improve tourism products. The future outlook for the next 12 months is bleak and without the right support, we will inevitably see the industry contracting quickly and drastically," Tan added.