Travel players appeal for extension

KUCHING: Tourism associations are appealing to the government to extend the moratorium on loans for travel and tour industry players.

They include d Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) together with the Malaysian Inbound Tourism Association, Bumiputera Travel and Tour Agents Association of Malaysia, Malaysia Chinese Tourism Association, Malaysian Indian Tour and Travel Association, Malaysia Inbound Chinese Association and Persatuan Pengusaha Bas Persiaran Semenanjung Malaysia.

MATTA president Datuk Tan Kok Liang, on behalf of the associations, said domesti c tourism had been reported to flourish, but domestic, travellers chose to book directly with hotels as hotels offer promotional rates that were lower than the contracted rate offered to travel agents or tour operators.

"Not only that, travellers choose to do self-drive instead of using vehicles by travel agents or tour operators, and due to the fact that everyone in the tourism industry is hungry for business, not only the hotels have gone directly to the consumers, airlines and attraction operators too have joined the fray.

"They too have offered packages an d ignored-the fact that license imposed by the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (Motac) is required. Likewise, outbound tour operators and travel agencies are equally hard hit with hundreds of millions tied up in airline and hotel bookings that they have made on behalf of their clients," he said yesterday.

Moreover, Tan also stressed that several tourism companies had appealed for the extension, but was futile in the attempt.

"According to the banks, the loan moratorium extension is only accessible on an individual basis and not for companies.

"Banks are only providing a rescheduling procedure to support businesses and impose a certain interest rate depending on the situation.

"The rescheduling of the loan repayment is not a viable option for many tourism companies. How do the banks expect business owners, especially tour operators, to pay the
interest fee that is charged upon the rescheduling of the loans if they are struggling with zero income in their businesses and have not had any earnings for the past six months
and probably in the next several months too?

Furthermore, with the recent Travel Advisory on Entry Restrictions, Tan highlighted that more countries had been added to the list, and most of the major contributors (countries) for inbound arrival into Malaysia are on that list.

"The hope for travel bubbles with some of these countries to boost the restart of tourism has now been dashed. The industry can expect a further prolongation of the situation and will not be surprised that recovery can only happen in the second quarter of 2021 as mentioned by Motac and was reported in the media recently.

"The government needs to assist us urgently by extending the loan moratorium for at least another six months due to the dire situation as mentioned above.

"Failing which, will lead to a situation where most of us will be forced to shut down our businesses or may end up in bankruptcy. This situation will add on to the unemployment and retrenchment of the tourism workforce."