Kuala Lumpur, 26 February 2021: The Malaysian Association of Tour & Travel Agents (MATTA) presented a 37 point recommendation to YB Dato’ Sri Nancy Shukri, the Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture on 19 Feb 2021.
The presentation was made in view of the extraordinary uncertainty due to the evolution of the pandemic, the prolonged closure of borders and restrictive domestic travel within Malaysia resulting in over 5000 travel agents being badly hit and thousands of tourism vehicles left idle.
“We urge the government to support the tourism sector now with ‘real action’ while we (the industry) makes preparation for a stronger, more sustainable come-back. The priorities for tourism recovery in MATTA’s recommendations include financial assistance and liquidity to protect workers and SME travel agencies, urgent and essential government regulations and policy changes, public-private sector collaboration for an efficient
reopening, boosting domestic travel and leveraging on technologies under the new norm”
said Datuk Tan Kok Liang, President MATTA.
“Our basic tourism industry infrastructure is so severely affected that tourism recovery is becoming an increasingly uphill task.”
“The travel and tourism industry is vital in any functioning economy and many governments have put extraordinary measures in place to try and protect these businesses. Immediate measures to revitalize the tourism industry will create a multiplier effect and bring relief to more than 510,000 establishments and SMEs in the various subsectors in the tourism sector” added Tan.
Summary of the 37 points:
Provide liquidity and Financial Assistance to Protect Workers and SMEs travel agencies.
• Wage Subsidy Program (WSP) - To extend the duration of the Wage Subsidy Program till 30 September 2021 and an immediate revision to 50% wage subsidy for employees earning less than RM4,000.00 and 30% for salary above RM4,
• Loan Moratorium - Automatic loan moratorium by financial institutions and credit companies to travel agency companies until 30 Sep 2021 and subject to review for further extension if necessary. There are companies that have been rejected for extension of loan moratorium under MCO 2.0 due to the targeted sectors approach now.
• Grant to Travel Agency Company - A one-off grant of RM10, 000 to travel agency companies to defray essential payments such as renewal fees of utilities, insurance, regulatory fees, website and other overheads.
• Special Loans - Travel agency companies to be provided with a special loan with very low interest rate and a longer loan tenure for up to 10 years.
• Vaccination - Front office staff in a travel agency companies, such as customer services staff, drivers, tour guides, tour leaders, boatmen, and other staff that deals directly with tourists to be given priority in the vaccination immunization program to restore tourist confidence.
Structural changes in Government Regulations and Policy
• Tourism Industry Act 1992 - To modernize and update the Act to meet current needs and developments as many of the clauses and items are out of date as it was done in 1992.
• To amend the Fourth Schedule of the Tourism Industry Act 1992. - “Travelers Outbound Terms and Conditions” which was issued on 18 February 2000. The outdated terms and conditions are big problems that negatively affect travel and tour businesses and their customers.
• To suspend issuance of new licenses for travel agency companies for this period, as there is now too many travel agency companies. The covid-19 has resulted in many existing companies being closed.
• To impose very strict enforcement on businesses operated by foreigners which are registered under/by locals as well as illegal tour agents, tour operators, tour guides, illegal vehicles and accommodation services many of which are operating through social media and other platforms.
• To engage with insurance companies for a travel insurance policy to cover any disruption caused by the covid-19 pandemic or other viruses.
• To allow travel agency companies to operate from home and close office premises in this period.
• Suspension of the mandatory Tours & Travel Enhancement Courses up to 31 December 2022.
• Automatic renewal of travel agency company licenses up to 31 December 2022 and a waiver of renewal fees.
• To provide Audit exemption for 2020 and 2021
• Submission of SSM Annual Returns should be waived for 2020 and 2021
• Renewal of signboard and PBT / Local Council license and other statutory requirements should be exempted for 2021 and 2020.
• All utilities bill, TNB, water and telecommunication services for travel agency company to be waived in this period or to allow for temporary suspension with no penalties.
• Insurance premium costs for tourism vehicles to be reduced substantially to be in line bus express and bas pekerja, and to reduce loading cost if any.
• The Ministry of Finance license fee for Travel Agency companies to be waived and for Bumiputera license requirements to change from minimum of 3 staff to 1 staff only
• The EPF contribution by travel agency companies to be waived up till December 2021.
• The SST on transportation services to be waived up till 31 December 2021.
• To allow vehicles operated by inbound tour operators, such as tour vans, hire and drive cars and limousines to be registered under e-hailing platforms.
• To allow excursion buses / tour buses and vans to offer interstate services
similar as “express bus” services.
• To standardize the six-month loan moratorium across all leasing and credit companies similar to what Bank Negara Malaysia has provided for the banks.
Training and Education
• Through MATTA Academy, affected tourism businesses will be assisted to reset strategies and prepare for recovery through web-based training to cover topics like digital marketing, and other online tools to support remote working and overseas promotions.
• Upskilling and reskilling of industry practitioners. MATTA will continue to work closely with public and private institutions to support capacity building in the travel and tourism industry.
• The government must support and provide funding to local online platforms rather than supporting foreign online platforms.
Promotion For The Future
• Marketing and Promotion - The tourism industry will take a period 12 months or more for recovery due to the uncertainty of the pandemic and a highly possible change in travel habits and trends as a result. The proposals to facilitate and push the recovery of the tourism industry should include the following:
• Domestic Travel
Domestic Tax Relief from RM1000 to RM10, 000 per household to promote Domestic Tours. Travel voucher must include accommodation, transportation and tour excursion, and must bought from licensed travel agencies/ tour operators.
• MATTA will be promoting domestic tourism to help kickstart the tourism economy in MATTA Fair domestic either through our technology platform or physical fairs.
• Corporate Travel
To provide double tax deduction for corporate companies that sent their employees for domestic MICE events (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions).
• ASEAN Travel
The Government to work with other ASEAN countries to start easing up border restrictions gradually with each other, creating a travel corridor between the neighbouring countries.
Boosting Travelers’ Confidence
• Health and Safety Accreditation - The Government must implement health and safety accreditation and protocol standards to boost confidence for both local and international tourists.
• MATTA has worked with an international accredited company to implement a proper “MATTA Travel Safe Mark” towards this objective. MOTAC has endorsed this initiative and program.
Tourism National Policy 2020-2030
• Must plan and implement post COVID-19 travel under the new norm and roadmap for the next 3 years for tourism recovery, for a start.
• To provide digital grant for tourism players in transforming their core business activities respectively towards further digitalisation of the industry.
• Meet in Malaysia high-end facility - to provide a high-end meeting facility and technology based for physical meetings and events could be hosted in accordance to set SOP and safety & health protocol standards, and where international guests need not be quarantined. This facility will help to jump start the MICE / business events sector and the tourism industry.
“We would like to thank the Minister for taking note of our recommendations and we look forward for urgent assistance, support and collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture’ concluded Datuk Tan Kok Liang, President of MATTA.
DATUK TAN KOK LIANG
Term 2019 – 2021