In reference to Budget 2021 that was presented by the Finance Minister on Nov 6, 2020, the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) wishes to highlight the allocation of RM50mil for re-skilling and redeployment programmes for 8,000 airline staff members who were retrenched.
MATTA views this allocation as unfair because it supports staff members from only one sector within the tourism industry. The industry also consists of travel agents/tour operators and staff of hotels, land transportation companies, F&B operators, retailers and others – collectively, the tourism industry employs more than 3.6 million people and contributed 15% to Malaysia’s GDP.
While MATTA sympathises with the plight of aviation sector workers, and we are glad they are getting RM50mil to help them, we strongly feel that re-skilling and redeployment programmes for retrenched workers should be comprehensive and inclusive of all affected workers in the entire tourism industry – they are all suffering in the same boat, after all.
In the travel agency/tour operator sector alone, with, for example, 5,000 travel companies on average that had to lay off five members of staff each, that would amount to 25,000 workers out of a job. What about the other sectors in the industry that have also had to retrench staff?
The Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister has said that nearly one million people working in the badly crippled tourism industry will lose their jobs. With such a huge number of people affected, the government should give urgent consideration and sufficient allocation of funds to this industry that has had to face the brunt of the Covid-19 pandemic.
MATTA reiterates our call to the government to re-assess Budget 2021 and provide better support for the tourism industry, an economic sector that has greatly benefited the country and the people in the last few decades. Budget 2021 clearly lacks the sort of substantial support required to set up a road map of recovery for the tourism industry in 2021 and beyond.