THE gears are shifting for economic sectors in preparation for their long-awaited reopening, thanks to the more relaxed measures afforded under the Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO).

For the tourism and hospitality industry, preparations have been in place even before the government’s announcement ofthe RMCO yesterday.

Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) president Datuk Tan Kok Liang said the disinfection of tour vehicles and training tour guides on SOP compliance had been carried out for weeks.

“This is to boost the confidence of travellers, who may have reservations (about holidaying in the country).

“I doubt Malaysians will hold back on domestic travel or interstate crossing because they are strictly adhering to the SOP when they go out,” said Tan.

He said the government’s move to relax the restrictions on domestic travel could help in the industry’s revival.

However, he urged the authorities to reconsider the decision to keep the country’s borders closed until Aug 31.

“Three months is a long wait for tourism and hotel players, as well as the aviation sector. There should be a balance between the external and internal tourism sectors.

“Malaysia’s revenue is highly dependent on external tourism as the domestic purchasing power is not strong,” said Tan.

Malaysian Association of Hotels chief executive officer Yap Lip Seng said the announcement of the RMCO marked the start of the domestic tourism industry’s recovery.

He said the industry had, on May 1, published guidelines to guide its players into the new norm, benchmarked against the Health Ministry’s requirements.

A total of 96 per cent of hotel respondents, he added, had adopted the SOP.

Yap said the industry was expecting a pick-up in leisure and business travellers.

Meanwhile, parents and teachers are preparing for schools to reopen.

National Parent-Teacher Association president Associate Professor Datuk Dr Mohd Ali Hassan urged the Education Ministry to conduct another round of inspections at schools at least a week before they were reopened.

This, he said, would ensure that their facilities and procedures were safe for schoolchildren as well as to protect them against possible Covid-19 infection.

The ministry, he said, could invite local education communities, such as parent-teacher associations and health and local authorities, to conduct the inspections.

“The ministry should establish an independent body to conduct spot checks on schools to ensure the SOP and guidelines are adhered to by the schools.”

He said he hoped the ministry would elaborate on matters related to the SOP and guidelines for school buses and vans.

National Union of Teaching Profession secretary-general Harry Tan Huat Hock agreed that schools should be allowed to resume in stages and that priority should be given to schoolchildren’s safety.

He urged the ministry to conduct a review to shorten the time allocated for the curriculum and study sessions.