Hotel association looks forward to wooing international tourists

Hotels have begun to note an increase in bookings for rooms in the second half of the year.

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Association of Hotels said the industry should already be planning for international tourist arrivals with the announcement of the recovery movement control order (RMCO) by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin today.

The RMCO, from June 10 to Aug 31, will see restrictions on interstate travel being removed, with meetings and workshops also given the green light to proceed, provided strict standard operating procedures (SOPs) are adhered to.

While Malaysia’s borders remain closed to foreigners, MAH CEO Yap Lip Seng said today’s announcement is significant for the tourism industry as it signals the beginning of the domestic tourism sector’s recovery.

“With the industry moving into the first stage of recovery, we need to plan ahead for the next stage — the international inbound market — once the borders are opened.

“This will involve concerted efforts to market and promote Malaysia by the private sector and the government,” Yap added.

MAH had previously issued a statement to urge Malaysia to take the lead in Asean tourism as it has traditionally been an important market for Malaysia.

Malaysian Association of Hotels CEO Yap Lip Seng.

Yap said MAH had presented the idea to the tourism, arts and culture ministry at a previous meeting, during which it also suggested preparing for arrivals from two major markets — China and India.

Stating that today’s announcement had given the industry “more hope”, Yap noted that tourism stakeholders have long prepared for this day to come – with a recent survey of 402 hotels recording 96% adoption of SOPs in reference to safety, health and hygiene practices for Covid-19.

Yap said despite hotels investing and spending more to comply with SOPs, the public should not expect the cost of hotel stays to increase. Many hotels are in fact offering attractive packages and promotions directly from their websites.

MAH’s survey also reported a slow but consistent pickup in hotel bookings for the coming months.

Yap said hotels have seen increased bookings for the third and fourth quarters of this year, indicative of the need to travel and as a result of the various promotions and packages that hotels have introduced in advance.

Yap noted that Kedah, Perak, Johor, Pahang and Kelantan are expecting short-term or immediate bookings while Langkawi and Negeri Sembilan are looking at increased interest for the year-end.

Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Sarawak and Terengganu have seen consistent bookings recorded for the third and fourth quarters of this year while Penang, Melaka and Sabah are looking at steady growth in demand until the first quarter of 2021.

“Steady demand is also seen for 2021, signalling confidence in recovery and acceptance of the new norm as part of travel,” said Yap.

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