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MAH: Three-month extension for wage subsidy programme not enough for hotels

KUALA LUMPUR (June 5): While the Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) has lauded the government’s three-month extension of the Wage Subsidy Programme (WSP), the association said it is not enough and called for a specific stimulus plan for tourism.

The subsidy amount, which was retained at RM600 per employee per month, is “insufficient for the industry to sustain”, said the association in a statement yesterday.

Instead, MAH reiterated its proposal for a 50% wage subsidy for employees with monthly pay of up to RM4,000 and 30% for those earning between RM4,000 to RM8,000.

This incentive would encourage the industry — which has seen rising unemployment with hotel closures, and staff taking pay cuts or unpaid leave — to rehire for the recovery of tourism, said the association.

“This is however dependent on actual recovery of demand which at the moment is still unknown for Malaysia.

“The industry is still in the dark as to when interstate leisure travel will be allowed or as to when the borders will be open.

“The industry is in need of more, and specifically in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, an indication at bare minimum, when the government will ease travel restrictions,” it said.

MAH added that while domestic tourism is undoubtedly the immediate target, international tourism would eventually need to be reopened, and Malaysia should first target Asean markets, followed by China and India.

The association also pointed out that Penjana did not have a specific tourism recovery plan and it is “convinced” that the Ministry of Tourism, Arts & Culture (Motac) is working on revitalising tourism, “not just for the industry but for the country”.

MAH said it had been engaging with the Ministry and other agencies with plans to drive demand both domestic and international, and is aware that Malaysia is in competition with neighbouring countries for tourists.

“Malaysia could take the lead in Asean tourism and unite Asean member states in tourism marketing for the entire region. Asean could be a destination by itself with nothing less to offer in comparison with Europe. governments need to take advantage of the situation and reintroduce Asean as ONE,” said its chief executive officer Yap Lip Seng.

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