Domestic tourism allowed but hoteliers not jumping just yet

Staff at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur sanitise the premises in anticipation of guests during the recovery movement control order period.

PETALING JAYA: Some hotel managers have adopted a cautious approach to the reopening of state borders, saying they do not expect much business from guests on vacation despite the government’s announcement that domestic tourism activities are allowed under the recovery movement control order (RMCO) which took effect this week.

Khoo Boo Lim, chairman of the Malaysian Association of Hotels’ (MAH) Penang chapter, said hotels there had not seen a significant spike in bookings despite the easing of travel restrictions which previously saw roadblocks across the country manned by police and army personnel.

Khoo, who also manages Macalister Terraces Hotel in George Town, said he expected to receive more guests on work-related trips rather than leisure.

“Many people are still wary of travelling,” he said, adding that the curtailment of business activities under the partial lockdown had affected the income of many.

“I would expect people to be more prudent in their spending. It will take a while for the economy to be back and running.”

Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, who announced the RMCO last week, said interstate travel would be allowed except for areas under enhanced MCO.

He added that local tourism activities could resume although the country’s borders would remain closed.

BE Lim, the general manager of The Gardens Hotel in Kuala Lumpur, said bookings had been trickling in following Muhyiddin’s announcement.

However, he told FMT these were mostly business travellers.

He said the hotel had been receiving bookings for dates between June and August although it was too early to give an estimate on the number of reservations.

Malaysian Budget Hotel Association president Emmy Suraya Hussein meanwhile said budget establishments had seen a 15% increase in bookings.

But she said this was not much considering that these reservations included dates until year-end.

She put total bookings so far at 6,000 to 6,500 nights spread across 2,300 budget hotels, with guests spread evenly between business and leisure travellers.

Rajesh Daswani, who manages Ramada Suites Kuala Lumpur, said it had received very few bookings despite remaining open throughout the MCO period. However, he remained optimistic.

“I’m sure it will pick up. I’m positive of that, but it will take time.”

He said the guests at his hotel were usually foreigners, mixed with some locals.

Meanwhile, checks on Resorts World Genting’s website found that its Genting, Awana, Kijal and Langkawi resorts will be staying closed during the RMCO until further notice.

In a notice, it said it would be monitoring the Covid-19 situation before making further announcements, adding that the resorts were enhancing hygiene practices in the meantime.

“This will ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable experience once we reopen,” it said.

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