KUALA LUMPUR: The organising of the Bersih 5 and Red Shirts rallies will affect the national tourism sector badly as it will fuel a negative image and perception of Malaysia among tourists.
The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) president Hamzah Rahmat said the organising of the rallies, would also cause foreign tourists to think twice about visiting the country again.
“When potential tourists learn about the organising of the rallies, they will definitely have second thoughts about coming here, and it’s very damaging for the country.
“During this economically challenging time, events like this should not be held because tourist arrivals contribute to our economy.
“We should be thinking about public interest as a whole,” he told Bernama when contacted here today.
Hamzah’s view was shared by Malaysia Inbound Tourism Association (MITA) president Uzaidi Udanis, who was of the opinion that the rallies would also give a negative perception about peace in the country.
“All this while, Malaysia has been considered as one of the warmest and more peaceful countries and we want tourists to return home with fond memories of Malaysia, not with the bad experience of witnessing street demonstrations and rallies.”
Uzaidi feared that the organising of the rallies would cause long-term phobias among tourists that would lead to long-term effects on the tourism industry.
Travel agent Mokhdzar Abdullah believed that many tourists, local and foreign, would avoid visiting the capital this weekend for security reasons.
“As we all know the rally organisers are aiming for major tourist attraction areas, such as the Dataran Merdeka and Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman.
“So tourists’ movement will be limited. We cannot anticipate what will happen.”
Meanwhile, civil servant Shahful Salleh, 31, said the impact of the rallies would be felt by all city dwellers.
“Weekends should be used for recreational activities, but the organising of the rallies will make people stay home.”
Australian tourist, Barry Conde, 70, also lamented over the organising of the rallies, saying that his movements would be limited as many roads would be closed and it would be difficult to travel with public transport.
“I come to Malaysia every year to visit my family and do some shopping.
“Unfortunately, I obviously came at the wrong time this year,” he added.