Government mulls staggering school holidays by region

Bernama pic.

GEORGE TOWN: A federal minister says the government is considering introducing staggered school holidays by region to reduce overcrowding at tourist spots.

Deputy Tourism and Culture Minister Muhammad Bakhtiar Wan Chik said the plan would only affect the March, June and September school breaks, with the year-end holidays left unchanged.

He said the proposal was still being discussed with the education ministry and all stakeholders involved and nothing had been finalised.

“Maybe we can spread it out between north, south and the east regions to allow these regions to have breaks on different weeks.

“I do not foresee many changes, as it would be an administrative matter involving the education department, especially on matters such as exams,” he said.

He said the change would likely be seamless for some states as their weekends were already staggered, giving as example Kedah, Johor, Kelantan and Terengganu which have a Sunday work week, with Fridays and Saturdays off.

Bakthiar said data such as hotel occupancy rates and other factors had been taken into consideration in the proposal.

He said the staggered holiday system was in place in the US and UK, and that it helped distribute the load of domestic tourists.

He said the ultimate goal was to lower the load of tourists at places of interest to prevent overcrowding.

“If you look at Melaka and Cameron Highlands during the peak periods, especially school holidays, it is so crowded and jammed.”

He said with tourism contributing 14.9% to the country’s GDP, it was a key industry to preserve and protect. He said the country’s tourism workforce of 3.2 million ought to be protected as well.

Bakthiar said the approach was also to get more domestic tourists to come out without worrying about being trapped in traffic and massive crowds during peak holiday seasons.

“It is something very common in other countries and I feel it will be beneficial for all and it will greatly spur domestic tourism growth. We will wait for a decision on the matter,” he said.

Earlier, Bakhtiar opened the fourth National Archaeology Seminar at a hotel here, organised by Universiti Sains Malaysia and the Northern Corridor Implementation Authority.