PETALING JAYA: Malaysian hotels which have benefitted from the influx of Chinese tourists are bracing for tough times as the coronavirus outbreak has forced holiday goers from the country to scrap their plans to come here.
Even budget hotels are not spared, with the Malaysia Budget Hotel Association saying that hotels in Johor, Melaka, Genting Highlands and parts of Kuala Lumpur are seeing about 30% of their bookings cancelled.
The association’s president Emmy Suraya Hussein said the bulk of the cancellations were group bookings from China, though there were also cancellations from free independent travellers (FITs) from Indonesia and Thailand.
“We have brought this up to the (tourism and culture) ministry. They are trying to help with (arrivals from) other markets, like India,” Emmy Suraya said.
Yesterday, the government’s special committee to tackle the coronavirus outbreak said it would study the need to further restrict the entry of Chinese visitors after the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the epidemic a global public health emergency.
Presently, only travellers from Hubei and its capital Wuhan, where the coronavirus originated from, are barred from entering the country.
In Kota Kinabalu, the Sabah chapter of the Malaysian Association of Hotels said room cancellations are mostly from China, but there are also Korean and Japanese visitors calling off their visits.
Its president Gordon Seet said he could not provide an estimated figure but added that cancellations have “tremendously” affected room sales and international events in the first quarter of the year.
“We are working closely with the ministry, the tourism board and other tourism associations on how to mitigate this loss of business but it will be a challenge.
“The primary way to overcome this would be to control expenditure to ensure the sustainability of business for the unforeseeable future and source for other business opportunities where possible”, he said.