PETALING JAYA: Local tourism players are counting on the special Kita Prihatin assistance package from the government to save the industry.
Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) president Datuk Tan Kok Liang said the extension of the additional allocation under the package's Wage Subsidy Programme 2.0 was a big help to the travel agents.
"We have all been badly affected. The RM600 wage subsidy is a good gesture to cushion the situation that has impacted us, especially payroll costs," he said.
Tan appealed to get banks to be less stringent and flexible to extend the loan repayment moratorium for the tourism industry as well as individuals.
Lotus Group founder and chief executive officer Tan Sri R. Doraisingam Pillai said the Kita Prihatin stimulus package would provide a lifeline to local tourism players.
"Some of the government aid will flow down to the local economy in terms of domestic spending. We are hopeful that the hospitality business will recover," he added.
Doraisingam, who owns the Desaru Beach Resort and Spa in Johor, suggested a service tax waiver for the hotel industry, special electricity tariff rates or discounts, incentives or grants from Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF) to reskill or upsWll workers, and free advertising for tourism players on TV and billboards.
He said the Desaru Beach Resort and Spa was recognised by the Tourism Ministry under the Asean Meeting, Incentive, Convention and Exhibition (MICE) Venue Standard for its meeting room facilities, adding that this was a sign that the government appreciated the huge efforts of the local players.
Sarawak Tourism Federation chief operating officer Franklin Simon said the extension of the wage subsidy was definitely Welcomed.
"As companies restrategise to adapt to the ever fluid and fragile situation, the aid from the Federal Government will definitely ease the pressure on companies, although not as a long-term solution," Franklin said.
He said the tourism industry was projected to lose at least 80% revenue this year alone.
"Unless the situation permits for travel to resume, borders to reopen, confidence restored and eventually a vaccine for Covid-19 found, the travel industry will continue to be in this grave situation," he said.
Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin recently announced a second wage subsidy scheme to assist companies still affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said the subsidy would be given to companies experiencing revenue reduction of up to 30% compared to last year since the recovery movement control order.
A wage subsidy of RM600 monthly will be given to a maximum of 200 employees each for three months.
Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri recently said the tourism industry had been hit by an estimated RM45bil in losses due to the pandemic.