KUALA LUMPUR, 29 January 2020 – The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) is committed to supporting the government’s effort to contain the spread of the 2019-nCoV (Wuhan coronavirus) and to look into recovery measures designed to mitigate the losses suffered by the tourism industry.
In a series of meetings held over the last two days, MATTA together with key industry stakeholders held frank discussions with the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC) and the Ministry of Health (MOH) on the very real challenges faced by the industry and ways to help the Malaysian tourism industry weather the storm.
MATTA has proposed forward-looking recovery measures which include preparations to vigorously promote Malaysia to China once it is safe for Chinese tourists to travel and to harness the power of big data to implement smart strategies that can be applied immediately to keep the Malaysian tourism industry robust and flexible during this time of crisis.
There have been mass cancellations for both inbound and outbound tours to and from China due to the restrictions imposed by the Chinese government. Industry stakeholders are particularly worried about the effect this will have on Visit Malaysia 2020.
MATTA President Datuk Tan Kok Liang says “We applaud the firm and decisive action by the China government in containing the situation via their travel ban. We are also in full support of the Malaysian government’s efforts in containing the threat and the measures put in place.”
“The number of China tourists travelling to other countries, including Malaysia, is bound to drop, and so is the number entering China. But for other parts of the world including this region, it should be business as usual. The tourism industry will certainly be impacted by lesser number of tourists from China, which is the world’s largest outbound market. But Malaysia is proven to be resilient as it has survived the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003 and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in 2012. MATTA hopes the situation is contained in the short term, otherwise, the repercussion will be severe as it will affect the tourism on a global scale,” Tan added.
MATTA has also called on hotels, airlines, tour operators and other service providers to be flexible in cancellation policies. MATTA is working closely with the local authorities to ensure the safety and security of tourists and tourism frontliners, which is paramount, as human lives come first. Local hotels and tour bus operators have stepped up hygiene and tourist guides are on the alert to look out those displaying symptoms.
“We must also remember to treat Chinese tourists who are currently in Malaysia with dignity and accord them as much assistance as we can during this trying time. They are our guests and our hospitality and care will go a long way towards reinforcing Malaysia’s image as a trustworthy long-term tourism partner not just to the Chinese but to nations the world over,” said Nigel Wong, Honorary Secretary General of MATTA.
Industry stakeholders are looking forward to further discussions with MOTAC on recovery plans and MATTA is already making plans to intensify its trade missions and promotions to China once the situation subsides.
MATTA is confident in the Malaysian government’s preparations and readiness in handling this crisis and reiterates that Malaysia is safe for tourists.
DATUK TAN KOK LIANG
Term 2019 - 2021