“Support Tourism Sector with Real Actions” Urges Matta

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.

Tourism Vehicles

• 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.

Digital Platform

• 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.

President MATTA
Term 2019 – 2021