MATTA proposes forward-looking tourism recovery measures

KUALA LUMPUR: Increasing promotion and marketing initiatives for domestic and inbound tourism, easing the criteria and requirements for matching grants under Galakan Melancong Malaysia (Gamelan Malaysia) and review on the Tourism Tax rate are some of the recovery measures proposed by the Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) for Malaysia to counter the negative effects brought about by the Wuhan coronavirus (2019 nCoV).

Furthermore, MATTA in its proposed forward-looking recovery measures said various ministries could also reduce or waive contributions and taxes such as those mandatory for the Employees Provident Fund, Human Resources Development Fund, tourism tax, road tax, and fees for various company licences and vehicle permits.

Its President Datuk Tan Kok Liang (pic) said it is also logic to consider for an easing of visa restrictions for India (and later on China) and more government events and functions be held in hotels in the country.

“We also hope the government will introduce a bigger economic stimulus package to assist sectors affected by the global pandemic outbreak,” he said.

In 2003, the government rolled out a RM8.1 billion economic package to help Malaysians mitigate the impact of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak, and in 2009, it announced a RM60 billion stimulus package in face of the global economic downturn.

This time around, he said MATTA expects the economic stimulus package to be announced soon would far exceed the RM8.1 billion growth plan rolled out in 2003 or the RM60 billion stimulus package announced in 2009,” he said in a statement.

He said MATTA, with key industry stakeholders, has had series of meetings with the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry, Health Ministry and Tourism Malaysia to come up with strategies to tackle the sudden and significant drop in travel to Malaysia.

The meetings resulted in MATTA proposing their forward-looking recovery measures designed to encourage more tourists to choose Malaysia as a preferred holiday destination.

Tan said also included in the proposal is for financial institutions to give out special loans, reduce interest rates or allow deferment in loans repayment as tour buses are idled more often than running. Meanwhile, the hotel industry is looking forward to initiatives proposed in the recent Tourism Recovery Action Committee meeting and is ready to support for the betterment of tourism.

“More importantly we are confident on the combination of government policies and private sectors’ efforts in preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus, and Malaysia remains safe for tourists,” Malaysian Association of Hotels President Kamaruddin Baharin said.

“The tourism industry, which employs more than 3.5 million people or 23.5pc of Malaysia’s total employment is critical to our nation’s economy and wellbeing,” he stressed.