Hotels can still accommodate

PETALING JAYA: Hotels will be operating with limited services pending approval from the National Security Council, says the Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH).

However, they will not be allowed to accept new guests once the movement control order is implemented from today. This ruling is also applicable to Malaysians.

The clarification came following a meeting held with the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry and Tourism Recovery Action Council yesterday.

In-house guests who had checked-in before today will be allowed to stay until their intended check-out date. However, they are advised to remain in their rooms throughout the movement control order period.

Other hotel services are not allowed to operate except for food and beverage but only for room service.

MAH chief executive officer Yap Lip Seng said the Covid-19 pandemic had caused 170,085 room cancellations, valued at RM68mil.

“The cancellation of bookings represents the current impact caused by the Covid-19.

“We foresee that the losses will double by the end of the year, ” he added.

MAH also asked that local service providers and supplies extend discounts to hotels during the period.

Meanwhile, Airbnb in a statement said that its hosts and guests affected by the Covid-19 crisis can cancel eligible reservations with no charge or penalty.

The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) urged the government to review the guidelines for the movement control order to consider tourists stuck during their holiday in Malaysia.

MATTA president Datuk Tan Kok Liang said the government should consider allowing hotels to continue accommodating guests and tourists who are currently in the middle of their planned tour and pre-booked their hotel stays.

“We have a situation where 21 Australian tourists in Sabah are in limbo because no hotel in Kota Kinabalu will accept them even after the hotel was booked before the government order was issued, ” he said.

Tan said the group was completing a leg of their tour in Ranau and were supposed to spend a few days in Kota Kinabalu starting March 18 before their flight home via Kuala Lumpur.

However, they were shocked to discover that the hotel that was listed in their itinerary refused to accept them after the order was issued.

When asked why their pre-booked accommodation was cancelled, the hotel operator said they were just following rules.

He believes this confusion arose as players were unsure whether the hospitality industry is considered an essential service.

“We hope policymakers would consider the flexibility of allowing foreign tourists to continue with their full tour given the unforseen circumstances.

“After all, if they were good enough to be accepted at one accommodation, why can’t they be considered for others on their pre-booked tour?”

He said if tourists are not given the flexibility, they might find themselves stranded in an unfamiliar town or city.

Another added inconvenience is if they have to travel far to catch a flight home from a certain point of exit, Tan said.

“If their flight home is via Penang and they are in Cameron Highlands, they might have to make that long journey if they are not allowed to stay in any hotel in Penang, ” he said.