95,000 hotel bookings cancelled over coronavirus outbreak, says Matta

Matta president Tan Kok Liang (second from right) wants the government to introduce a stimulus package soon.

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) today confirmed that 95,000 hotel bookings had been cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak and the travel ban imposed by China on its citizens.

Its president Tan Kok Liang – who previously claimed Beijing’s travel ban would cripple the industry – said a majority of the cancellations were from China.

“We can see in social media that many of the cancellations are from China as their government has prevented tour agencies from bringing in tourists to Malaysia,” he said at a press conference.

A social media user recently claimed that 95,000 hotel bookings had been cancelled because of the SARS-like outbreak which has claimed over 1,000 lives and infected over 43,000 people worldwide.

Tan also said the suspension of flights from China would impact the tourism industry as Chinese nationals made up 13% of the total number of visitors.

However, Tan said he feared the negative comments and news over the outbreak would also frighten off visitors from other countries.

“We are afraid they will think Malaysia is unsafe.”

Tan said they were targeting domestic sales of RM30 million for its first ever Matta Fair Cuti-Cuti Malaysia.

also said the outbreak would see the revenue for the Matta fair drop to between RM20 million and RM30 million. The travel fair generally generates revenue of RM40 million annually.

He urged the government to introduce a stimulus package to help the tourism industry, especially with the drop in the number of visitors to cities like Penang, Johor Bahru, Kuala Lumpur, Kuching and Kota Kinabalu.

“Don’t take too long to review. The government needs to decide immediately so we can focus on promoting Malaysia.”