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Tour bus operators seek govt assistance

KUALA LUMPUR (May 6): The Covid-19 pandemic not only threatens the health and lives of the people, but also affects the economy and sustenance of various sectors of the economy.

Also affected are tour bus operators, who are the “frontliners” that help to boost the country’s local tourism industry by bringing visitors, including from abroad, to interesting places in the country.

However, their livelihood changed since December last year with the outbreak of Covid-19, which brought the travel industry to its knees, affecting the operators of more than 10,000 tour buses in the country, who also are facing pressure from creditors for repayment of their vehicle loans.

WSF Travel and Tours Sdn Bhd director Wan Shairi Wan Ahmad claimed that due to the absence of loan moratorium on tour bus, most tour bus operators in dire financial straits are almost bankrupt.

“If possible we want the MoF (Ministry of Finance) to restructure the bank loan for tour bus companies of 1% to 2% ...[at the current rate,] the companies could close shop in three or four months because a bus would involve repayment of  RM12,000-RM13,000 a month, ”he told Bernama TV recently.

Wan Shairi also appealed to the government to use the service of tour buses to send students who are still stranded at their respective institutions of higher learning back to their hometowns.

Meanwhile, Dataran Travel and Tours director Abdul Aziz Ismail Gani said the company is in dire straits as it had been out of business, with no request for the service of its tour buses, since the outbreak of Covid-19 in the country.

“The depreciation value of the bus is very bad. Even if we want to sell the bus, no one is going to buy. Whether we like it or not, we still have to pay the loan,” he added.

Owner of GLX Travel & Tours N Gunaratnam said he had already applied for the Wage Subsidy Programme, but had yet to receive any notification from the Social Security Organisation (SOCSO).

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