MATTA: Extend loan moratorium for tourism sector

KUALA LUMPUR: The government has been called upon to extend the loan moratorium for the tourism sector by another six-months.

The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) president, Datuk Tan Kok Liang said tourism industry players had been deprived of income since March.

He said the industry has been recognised as a significant job provider and an important contributor to the nation’s economy which has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said as thankful as the industry players were for the loan repayment moratorium granted by financial institutions since April 2020, to keep the tourism sector afloat, tourism stakeholders have to look at its inability to service loans due to regulatory constraints and weak demand.

“We believe that individual borrowers working in the hospitality and tourism industry should also be provided with a six-month moratorium extension as many are currently on pay cuts, unpaid leave or had been retrenched.

“Many do not have the ability to repay their loans under current pressing circumstances and the rate of unemployment is rapidly increasing,” he said in a statement, today.

Tan also explained that the local tourism sector derived a large portion of their earnings from international tourists.

“How can they survive if the borders stay closed?

“With no firm direction from the government on the easing of borders (closure), it is only appropriate to request that the government initiate and order an extension of the moratorium, rather than industry players seeking an extension to their respective banks on their own which would likely be turned down especially after the Prime Minister (Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin) announced on July 6 that the industry will take four years to recover,” he said.

Tan said the industry’s collective inability to service its debts was due to external forces which was beyond its control.

“We urge the Government to take proactive action to step in, rather than to leave the decision to the various private banking institutions who will make decisions based on their terms of industry risk assessment and maximising their shareholders’ wealth.”

He added that the Tourism, Arts and Culture ministry had estimated the losses suffered by the tourism sector would amount to some RM45 billion in tourism receipts and about one million workers in the industry in Malaysia were expected to lose their jobs this year.

“To effectively revive the tourism industry specifically in the domestic segment, we are doing our part, by doubling our efforts to push for packages with attractive rates to cater to the new travelling environment with safe and yet enjoyable new experience,” he said.

However, Tan said, the biggest challenge faced by travel agents in domestic tourism is Malaysian travelers opting to “go on their own”.

“They (domestic travelers) do not realise 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 clients during their tour stay.

“We are committed to reviving the tourism industry to its full course, and we surely hope that by granting the extension of six months, it will further assist more tourism players to weather through the challenges.

“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,” Tan added.