PETALING JAYA: While stakeholders agree that modifying work weekends and school holiday terms are valid proposals to help the domestic tourism sector bounce back from the Covid-19 pandemic, they stress that such schemes are easier said than done.
Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) secretary-general Nigel Wong said the successful implementation of such proposals were a “welcome move” but noted that the government might need to do more than just allow for more away-time or staggered holidays.
“There must also be targeted incentives to tour – not just travel – domestically such as tax incentives or travel allowances that can be redeemed only through licensed tourism industry stakeholders.
“The main challenges to this would still be the fear of travelling, especially since there has been a rise in the number of cases (Covid-19) recently – as well as the logistical problems that may arise from, for example, staggered school holidays,” he said.
Malaysian Association of Hotels CEO Yap Lip Seng said that previous proposals to change school holiday dates fizzled out due to the effect on parents’ work schedule.
Yap said not every industry could move their employees’ off days around due to the companies’ relationship with other industries and their business dealings with international counterparts.
“If you look at families, it is unlikely that the members will all be working in the same industry, so it will be hard to get a day off (at the same time) … and the kids need to go to school on the weekdays.
“There is a lot of strategising and planning needed to make it work. The proposals are definitely something we can look into, but the implementation is not as simple as it sounds.”
Earlier in the week, Pahang’s Tourism, Culture, Environment, Plantations and Commodities Committee chairman Mohd Sharkar Shamsudin raised the idea of modifying work arrangements, weekends and school holiday terms to boost domestic tourism during the pandemic.
Apart from suggesting that work be carried out in teams to allow one group to have longer weekends each week, Sharkar also proposed that workers be given their weekly days off on other days, apart from the weekend.
He also suggested that schools hold holiday terms on different weeks instead of every school going on breaks at the same time, adding that having schools in only three or four states going on their break at each time would also prevent overcrowding at tourist hotspots.
UOW Malaysia KDU University College’s School of Hospitality, Tourism and Culinary Arts Department head Cindy Loh said while the proposals were valid, the duration of such measures was one of the biggest question marks going forward.
“Any idea is a good idea right now, but the proposals’ workability needs to be assessed. All this rearranging of schedules… we need to assess it properly as it will be a very big change. Are we going to change for the long-term or is this just a short-term fix?” she said.