More emphasis on Cuti-Cuti Malaysia to revive tourism sector

PETALING JAYA: The Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry will look into refocusing its efforts on promoting domestic tourism in an attempt to revive the sector.

Minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri said since the Visit Malaysia Year 2020 campaign was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there would be more emphasis on the Cuti-Cuti Malaysia campaign.

She said while the people's health was a priority, the country's economy could not be neglected.

"We are strategising on various aspects.

"Not only are we looking at tourism spots in rural areas or areas that have never been explored, but we are also looking into storytelling," she said during the "Covid-19 Bread & Butter Series: Protecting the Tourism Workforce" webinar on Tuesday.

The online forum - the first in a three-part series - was organised by the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents in collaboration with Star Media Group.

Nancy said industry players would need to work with them in providing more creative and innovative programmes.

She said the ministry also hoped to enhance the quality of tourism services through online training for the sector's manpower.

"We have submitted proposals through the Economic Action Council for minimum training allowances to run the online training to assist tourist guides.

"A list of concerns of industry
players was also brought to the
attention of the Finance Ministry
last week," she said, adding that
among the requests was to exempt
licensing fees for tourist guides,
tour operators and travel agencies.

Nancy said they were also looking at ways to restore the confidence of tourists, including locals,
to travel again.

Malaysian Employers Federation executive director Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan said as of last month, over 5,000 employees in the tourism industry had been retrenched, the biggest sector affected so far.

He said it was just the tip of the iceberg as the numbers would rise with several big hotels closing down. Apple Vacations group managing director Datuk Seri Koh Yock Heng said manpower took up about 65% of the company's costs.

He said die pandemic had started to affect the sector in January and by March, about 40% of companies had already implemented pay cuts or unpaid leave.

"We believe many others may consider a retrenchment exercise in the near future as a medium-sized agency will only be able to cope for two to three months at the most," he said.