Kuala Lumpur 21 May 2021: The Malaysian Association of Tour & Travel Agents
(MATTA) is urging the government to prioritize and fast-track vaccination for tourism
“Our national tourism industry which is on the verge of collapse needs to be safeguarded and
revitalized as it is one of the prime economic pillars and pivotal to our nation’s economic
recovery. Vaccination of the frontline workers (tour operators, drivers, boatmen, tourist
guides, hotel staff and other related staff) is critical on this journey towards the reopening of
our economy and our tourism industry,” said Datuk Tan Kok Liang, President MATTA
“The government has been talking about domestic tourism for the last 15 months to bolster
the tourism sector and economy, yet tourism workers have not been given priority. This is
disappointing as countries like Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia have all prioritized
tourism workers for vaccination. Even a small country like Cambodia has managed to
administer the first dose of the vaccine to 2,100,151 of its citizen’s to- date. Malaysia
unfortunately is lagging far behind,” added Tan who is also the President of the Federation
of ASEAN Travel Association (FATA).
“We must continue to promote domestic tourism aggressively within the country, and
therefore tour and travel industry workers must be vaccinated at the very soonest.”
Research by the Department of Statistics, Malaysia, shows that 239 million visitors traveled
within the country in 2019, an increase of 8.1% compared to 2018. RM 103.2 billion was
spent by domestic visitors with an annual growth rate of 11.5% (statistics for year 2020 has
not been released yet).
Saudi Arabia’s recent ruling that allows only people who have been vaccinated against
Covid-19 to attend the haj this year provide even more reason for tourism players to be
vaccinated in preparation for the haj season that will take place in mid-July. An expedited
vaccination for tourism players would facilitate the recovery of the local tourism industry,
especially amongst Bumiputera agents. This move would provide an opportunity for
registered Bumiputera agents to restart their business which has seen up to a drop of up to
97% of their income due to the continuous lockdown.
MATTA had earlier sent an appeal to YB Tuan Khairy Jamaluddin, Minister of Science,
Technology and Innovation cum Minister of the National COVID-19 Immunization Program
seeking urgent attention and decision to give priority for tourism frontline staff and workers
in tour and travel agencies.
“Without a game-plan from the government and its non-committal wait and see approach on
loan moratoriums, financial support, extension of wage subsidy program, waiver of
compliance costs, utilities and rental rebate due to MCO 3.0, it has virtually left SMEs
tourism business and 3.6 million workers dejected” concluded Tan.
DATUK TAN KOK LIANG PGDK, M.A Tourism, CA (M), FCTIM, CHA
Term 2019 – 2021