Shorter school holidays seen as blow to tourism

The shorter year-end holidays will have a major impact on the tourism industry as families trim their travel plans, industry players say.

PETALING JAYA: A group representing tour guides has voiced dismay over the government’s decision to cut the end-of-year school holidays to two weeks, saying it is a blow to the domestic tourism industry.

The Malaysian Tourist Guides Council said the adverse effects would be felt not only by tour guides, but also hotels, theme parks, shopping malls and airlines and other transport services.

Its president, Jimmy Leong, told FMT said the closing weeks of the year had always been a profitable time for domestic tourism.

“Longer holidays will encourage families to go on vacation, using the shorter holidays to deal with family necessities,” he said.

A two-week break would mean most of the time would be spent on completing family errands, he added.

Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) secretary-general Nigel Wong said domestic sales during the 2019 Matta fair amounted to more than RM40 million, with holiday packages for the long holiday period accounting for most of the amount.

But he told FMT it was too early to tell how the shortened holiday period would affect travel since one would have to consider the public’s fear of Covid-19 infection.

“We feel that travel, in general, will be fairly muted as people are generally wary about going on holiday,” he said.

“On the domestic front, however, it will definitely have a major impact on the industry as holidaymakers cut short their travel plans.”

Yap Lip Seng, CEO of the Malaysian Association of Hotels, said health and safety factors would still be at the forefront of potential holidaymakers’ minds, followed closely by financial constraints.

“While school holidays do play a major role in driving domestic tourism, the current situation would have had an effect on all decision-making for travel, regardless of the change,” he said.

“We forecast an average occupancy of hotels for 2020 to be at only 25.41%. We’ll only see reasonable recovery in mid-2021.”

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