Extend loan moratorium for another six months: MATTA

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) urges the Government to extend the loan moratorium to a further six months for the tourism industry, in recognition that the industry is one of the significant
job providers and important economy contributors to the country.

The tour and travel industry is the hardest hit by the recent outbreak and study indicate that it will only recover from the current crisis much slower than other sectors of I he Malaysian economy.

It will be an uphill task to retune the industry if tourism companies are wounded up and tourism workers are being driven
into bankruptcy by early 2021.

"Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin on July 6 announced that the tourism industiy will need four years to recover. Many tourism players have been deprived of income since March 2020, " said MATTA President, Datuk Tan Kok Liang in a statement, here, Monday.

"Against a backdrop of recession and unemployment, being wholly dependent on domestic tourism will not be sufficient
to sustain related businesses and individuals working in this industiy.

"The industry's inability to service their loans are clue to regulatory constraints and weak demand . Many tourism businesses derive a large portion of their earnings from international tourists, how are they to survive if borders stay closed?

"With no firm direction from the Government on the easing of borders, it is only appropriate to request that the Government to initiate and order an extension of the moratorium rather than industry players seeking an extension to
their respective banks on their own which is likely will be turn down especially after the Prime Minister made an announcement that the industry takes four years to recover."

"Individual borrowers working in the hospitality and tourism industry should also be given a six-month moratorium extension as many are currently on pay cuts, unpaid leave or have been retrenched.

Many do not have the ability Io repay their loans under current pressing circumstances and the rate of unemployment is
rapidly increasing.

"The Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture has estimated the losses suffered by the tourism and culture industry amounting to some RM45 billion in tourism receipts and about one million workers in the tourism industry in Malaysia are expected to lose their jobs this year," he said.

Tan said the tourism industry's collective inability to service its debts is due to external forces beyond its control.

"In this instance, the industry urges the Government to take proactive actions to intervene rather than leave the decision to the various private banking institutions who will make decisions based on their terms of industry risk assessment and maximise shareholders wealth," he said.

He said to effectively revive the tourism industry specifically towards the domestic segment, MATTA is doubling its effort to push for packages with attractive rates to cater to the new travelling environment with safe and yet enjoyable new experience.

"The biggest challenge for travel agents in domestic tourism is that Malaysian travellers often opt to 'go on their own'not realising that a personalised travel experience tailored by travel agents often result in time savings, convenience and peace of mind as licensed tour operators are always 24/7 ready for their client during their duration of stay with the tour."

"We are thankful for the loan repayment moratorium given by the financial institution since April 2020 as it is significant to keep the industry stay afloat.

"We are committed to bring the tourism industry become great again and we surely hope that the extension of six
months will further assist more tourism players to weather through the challenges," he said.

He said the government, together with Bank Negara Malaysia must step in. "It is hoped that the Government and relevant
bodies will make it a priority and look into these crucial requests to assure progress in the recovery of Malaysia's travel and tourism industry," he said.