KUALA LUMPUR: The Covid-19 outbreak is an opportunity to encourage greater domestic travel, the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel (Matta) said.
Matta’s secretary-general Nigel Wong said the slowdown in international travel has led to higher demand for domestic destinations.
“This crisis has made us (tourism industry players) all unite and promote these tours together.”
He added that Matta had given 10 proposals to the government for the stimulus package, to be announced on Feb 27.
Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad is scheduled to announce an economic stimulus package to mitigate the challenges that may affect the different industries as result of the coronavirus outbreak.
Wong was speaking at a press conference announcing Matta’s first-ever domestic travel fair called Matta Cuti-Cuti Malaysia, which will be held on April 4-5 at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (KLCC).
He added that the domestic travel fair was a smart move as numerous tourism service providers will be offering bargain prices and rates to fill up seats and rooms.
The fair is expected to rake in RM40 million in revenue.
Rocky Kho, oversight chairman of the Cuti-Cuti Malaysia fair, added that the government seemed more prepared to handle this public health emergency when compared to the SARS outbreak in 2003.
Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) president Kamaruddin Baharudin said many hotels were willing to offer discounts of up to 50%.
He said hotel managements had taken steps to meet guidelines and standard operating procedures outlined by the health ministry to ensure cleanliness for visitors.
“It’s safe to stay in hotels. We supply masks to guests and we take temperatures of all staff every day.”
He added that hotels have increased their frequency of cleaning and are providing hand sanitisers in public areas.
Kamaruddin said tourism players had proposed a temporary abolition of the tourism tax to encourage more travel among foreigners. However, the government may only be able to reduce this tax.
He said their request was for the tourism tax to be reduced from RM10 per night per person to a token RM1.
MAH has also signed an MoU with Global Doctors Association (GDA) to promote healthy and safe travel during this period.
GDA executive chairman Dr Sharifah Fauziah Alhabshi said GDA will be working with MAH to provide services such an on-site vaccination for hotel staff and visitors, and also training for hotel management and employees for cleanliness and safety.