PETALING JAYA (Dec 23): The tourism industry is asking for more assistance as the situation has not improved -- the industry is in need of higher wage subsidy, discounts for utilities as well as waiver of fees, licenses and permits, said Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH).

According to MAH chief executive officer Yap Lip Seng (pictured) said that so far, just for the hotel industry alone, approximately 90 hotels had closed either permanently or temporarily, affecting the livelihood of employees.

“More than 12,000 had been retrenched while others are either on a pay-cut or unpaid leaves. And on the other side, the majority of travel agencies and operators had ceased operations. The industry risks losing more tourism capacity that would cost more to rebuild,” he said in a media statement today.

MAH also urged the government to accept the National Tourism Policy and empower various ministries and agencies, and not just another project paper for the Ministry of Tourism, Arts & Culture (MOTAC) alone. 

“MOTAC must be given sufficient autonomy to ensure the objectives under the policy are achieved within the set time frame,” he said.

He noted that the tourism industry is a complicated sector that involves various stakeholders both public and private and very often with overlapping jurisdictions of government agencies with conflicting priorities.

“The National Tourism Policy must be upheld across and be prioritised for it to be relevant and effective. A clear example would be the need to drive international arrivals versus immigration controls. 

“The government must realise that relaxation of immigration restrictions (visa requirements) plays a major role in driving tourist arrivals while immigration concerns are valid too, it should be a matter of enforcement and not upfront restrictions,” added Yap.

The National Tourism Policy should be the source of authority to act, and to act immediately before the local tourism segment falls behind further against neighbouring countries.

Meanwhile, Yap said industry stakeholders also requested for more private sector empowerment to lead the strategic thrusts rather than being left in the backseat with little or no control.

Stakeholders are immediate parties on the ground with direct access to industry analytics and market trends and must not be taken lightly, he added.

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