Hotels facing tough times again with resurgence in Covid-19 cases

Hotels have been forced to take cost-saving measures, especially reducing wages, to stay open.

SEREMBAN: The start of the recovery movement control order (RMCO) on June 10 has enabled the hotel business to revive, albeit slowly, but the industry is facing another hard time due to the impending third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in the county.

Implementation of the conditional movement control order (CMCO) at the virus hotspots, calls to avoid crowded places and the recent spike in cases have all discouraged people to go out, more so to travel.

Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) CEO Yap Lip Seng predicts a drop of around 15% in hotel-stay rate for the next two or three weeks, involving RM60 to RM100 million in total income loss.

“During the MCO period since March 18, hotel stays had fallen to the lowest, which was only about 5%

“However, with the reopening of domestic tourism since June, hotels began to receive bookings and the accommodation rate was highest at 42% during the National Day weekend,” he told Bernama here.

He said research showed that the industry had lost about RM3 billion for the first six months and was expected to experience another drop of RM3.3 billion for the next six, totalling RM6.3 billion in losses for this year.

“Due to the Covid-19 global pandemic, the country’s tourism sector could only depend on the domestic market and this situation is forecast to prolong until the middle of next year.

“At the same time, hotels are still in a bad situation, forcing them to take cost-saving measures, especially reducing wages,” said Yap.

Meanwhile, Negeri Sembilan MAH chairman Haziz Hassan said hotels in the state had lost over 50% of bookings for accommodation, courses, seminars and other events, following rising Covid-19 cases.

“After the prime minister’s announcement on allowing interstate travel in June, the hotel sector was active again and bookings started to become consistent.

“However, after the spike in Covid-19 cases, we will be affected again as there have been calls to postpone or cancel the bookings.

“When this happens, the hotel sector is the most affected. Reviving it will take time, probably by next June when the situation becomes more stable. Whatever, we have to accept the situation that hotels’ income is dropping,” he said.

He added that hotels still needed to be in operation despite the decreasing number of guests for the purposes of maintenance, security and cleanliness.

In Port Dickson recently, it was found that there were fewer visitors than usual and the beaches were noticeably empty.

Negeri Sembilan recorded tourist arrivals of 6.43 million last year.

Government officer Mohamad Shahriel Hamdan, 42, from Kuala Lumpur, admitted that the latest pandemic situation in the country caused him to cancel his holiday plans with his family in Port Dickson.

“Although there is no restriction on interstate travel so far, I decided not to travel anywhere as my family’s safety is most important. Of course, we can be careful, but we can’t see the virus and as such, it is better to be cautious.

“I do not want to put my family’s lives at risk. We can go for a holiday when the situation has improved and is safe,” he said.