KOTA KINABALU: The tourism industry has suffered an estimated RM3 billion losses from cancellations and bookings due to the Covid-19 outbreak, said Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry secretary-general Noor Zari Hamat.
The outbreak, he said, could affect the government’s target of achieving 30 million arrivals during the Visit Malaysia Year 2020 campaign.
“We have to accept the reality that the tourism industry is the first to be affected by the outbreak in China.
“The losses are suffered by all, from the airlines, hotels and homestays down to the cottage industry,” Zari said in his speech at the Tourism Malaysia Town Hall Roadshow here today.
He said the roadshow was an extension of the federal government’s National Disaster Management Commitee, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.
He said it was aimed at gathering the views and recommendations of the tourism players on how the government could assist them in cushioning the impact of the Covid-2019 outbreak.
Present were Tourism Malaysia chairman Ahmad Shah Hussein Tambakau, Sabah Health Department principal assistant director Dr Sharul Nizam and Tourism Malaysia director-general Musa Yusof.
According to Zari, the committee was established to listen to the views and recommendations of tourism players on how to recover from the weakening tourism sector.
Musa said the government would push for the promotion of domestic tourism as part of the recovery plan.
He said domestic tourists, including those from neighbouring nations like Singapore, Brunei and the Philippines, had contributed RM70 billion to the economy.
“When we checked on all the hotels in the country, 86% of the occupants were Malaysians.
“This shows that domestic tourism has contributed much to the industry.
“There are two types of tourists from within Malaysia. First, there are those who visit for leisure and the second category are those here for business,” he said, adding that many of the bookings were done online.
Musa said this is the right time for all the hotels, airlines and others to provide their inventory and promotions as the school holidays are just around the corner.
On business travel, Musa noted the government had set up several incentives such as the Gamelan grant for companies which can assist the industry by organising meetings, incentives, conferences and exposition (MICE).
Meanwhile, Shahrul allayed fears over the Covid-19, saying Sabah had recorded 58 suspected cases, but most of them involved foreigners.
He said there was only one case in Tawau at present pending results.
Shahrul said there had been 18 recorded cases in Malaysia, with 80% showing mild symptoms and 20% severe.
“However, the recovery rate, as noted by the World Health Organization, is 80%, with 20% resulting in death,” he said.
When asked over the lack of supply of face masks in Sabah, he said healthy individuals had snapped them up.
He said the health ministry had been advising only those who are sick to wear the face maks to prevent the disease from spreading.
“But this is what usually happens when such diseases break out.”