KUALA LUMPUR, 5 February 2020 - The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) together with key industry stakeholders has had a series of meetings with the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture Malaysia (MOTAC), the Ministry of Health (MOH) and Tourism Malaysia to come up with strategies to tackle the sudden and significant drop in travel to Malaysia due to the coronavirus crisis.
MATTA President Datuk Tan Kok Liang says “We have proposed forward-looking recovery measures which include an increase of promotion and marketing initiatives for domestic and inbound tourism, easing the criteria and requirements for matching grants under Galakan Melancong Malaysia (GAMELAN Malaysia) and a review on the Tourism tax (TTX) rate to encourage more tourists to choose Malaysia as a preferred holiday destination.”
“Other measures proposed were meant to increase marketing efforts to correct any mistaken impression that Malaysia is not safe; to encourage cross border tourism, to ease the visa requirement especially for Indian tourists to cover the shortfall of tourists from China, and finally harnessing the power of big data to implement retargeting and other smart strategies that can be applied immediately to keep the Malaysian tourism industry robust and flexible during this time of crisis.”
MATTA together with key industry partner the Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) had earlier proposed a number of strategies that included among them:
A social marketing campaign promoting awareness to international travelers that #MalaysiaIsSafe through stories, pictures and videos created by tourism industry stakeholders and the public
A coordinated marketing plan headed by Tourism Malaysia with content and input from the various industry associations
More government events and functions be held in hotels
Expanding the scope and easing the restrictions of the GAMELAN Malaysia matching grant
A separate emergency fund for a digital marketing matching grant to encourage industry stakeholders in the private sector to widen their customer reach in a more cost-effective manner
Streamlining and easing cross-border clearance; making it more traveler friendly to encourage more overland tourism
Easing of visa restrictions for India (and later on China)
Issuing of frequent health and travel advisories or updates in multiple languages
Economic and financial stimuli including a temporary uplifting of the tourism tax, waivers of permit and license fees and for financial institutions to temporarily defer loan repayments
“MATTA is hopeful that the economic stimulus package to be announced soon would far exceed the RM8.1 billion growth plan rolled out in 2003 to help Malaysians mitigate the impact of the SARS outbreak, or the RM60 billion stimulus package announced in 2009 to invigorate vital sectors in the face of the global economic downturn,” Tan added when asked about the government’s plan to stimulate the economy.
“The various Ministries could reduce or waive contributions and taxes such as those mandatory for the Employees Provident Fund, Human Resources Development Fund, tourism tax, road tax, and fees for various company licences and vehicle permits. Financial institutions could give out special loans, reduce interest rates or allow deferment in loans repayment as tour buses are idled more often than running,” he added.
“The hotel industry is looking forward to initiatives proposed in the recent TRAC meeting and is ready to support for the betterment of tourism. More importantly we are confident on the combination of government policies and private sectors’ efforts in preventing the spread of the 2019-nCoV novel coronavirus, and Malaysia remains safe for tourists,” said Kamaruddin Baharin, President of MAH.
The tourism industry which employs more than 3.5 million people (23.5% of our nation’s total employment) is critical to our nation’s economy and wellbeing. The travel sector which includes tour and transport operators provides vital links for all tourism services but are now in dire straits and in urgent need of aid.
DATUK TAN KOK LIANG
Term 2019 – 2021