DOMESTIC TOURISM: KEY TO INDUSTRY’S SURVIVAL
Wisma MAH, Ampang (26 Feb 2021) - Tourism, hotels and related economic activities were mentioned in recent media briefings by Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, its contents aside, could well indicate that the Government is indeed looking into the industry after much pleas and cries from industry stakeholders, particularly the Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH).
The industry welcomes the reopening of Meetings, Incentive, Convention and Exhibition (MICE) sector, collectively also known as Business Events, an important sector that had placed Malaysia on the world map of international events. This was part of the 19 + 2 proposals points MAH submitted to the Government through Ministry of Tourism, Arts & Culture (MOTAC) and also presented in a joint meeting with Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau (MyCEB). The industry appreciates efforts from MOTAC and MyCEB.
While at the moment these events are confined to its respective states and districts due to the travel restrictions, MAH alongside other industry associations such as the Malaysia Association of Convention, Exhibition Organisers & Suppliers (MACEOS) and the Business Events Council of Malaysia (BECM), is confident that the industry is ready to comply with additional SOP requirements if needed, such as official letter from event organisers to allow attendees and participants to cross district or states. Existing MICE SOPs already imposes strict screening and registration of attendees and participants, that would complement health authority’s requirements and controls.
On a separate note, recent remarks made by the Senior Minister caused much unrest in the hotel industry while he was clarifying that hotels were never instructed to close. At the same time the Senior Minister also acknowledged that hotels had indeed closed due to lack of customers and business. Since the first Movement Control Order (MCO) in March 2020, hotels were listed as essential services but however both international and state borders were closed until the Recovery MCO in June, hotels lost all revenue streams during that period and also during the current MCO 2.0, forcing more hotels to close and retrench.
“The tourism and hotel industry depends on movement of people and as such interstate travel is much needed for it to survive. We hope that the Government will extend additional support to tourism and hotel industry and lift interstate travel restrictions soon,” said Dato N Subramaniam, President of MAH.
According to a report by Horwath HTL, a global leader in hotel, tourism & leisure consulting, Kuala Lumpur in comparison with other key cities in South East Asia, recorded departmental expenses (that includes manpower costs) as high as 44% of its revenues in year 2019. Other expenses were at 30%, leaving only 26% in Gross Operating Profits on a good year. Without its core revenues from hotel rooms, hotels will not be able to sustain its high overheads, leaving it with little options and eventually forced into closure.
“While we are waiting for international tourism to return, we need the Government to at least allow us to survive on our own with domestic market, the hotel industry directly and tourism industry indirectly employs 3.6 million people in total and they all depend on tourism activities that begins with interstate travels,” Dato N Subramaniam added.