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Malaysia hotel industry losses RM135m during Ramadan last year

PETALING JAYA (May 10): At least RM135 million of revenue in the food and beverage segment were evaporated during last year’s Ramadan period, due to the implementation of movement control order (MCO), according to Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH).

The association said with the reinstatement of MCO in most of the states in Malaysia and the blanket ban on dine-ins, it left hotels in a predicament with only days to reorganise what was planned for the entire month.

The tourism and hotel industries are again left helpless as various states fall into another round of MCO and this time around it came right in the middle of the holy month of Ramadan when hotels are busy preparing for the coming Hari Raya holidays and serving the once a year festival buffet for breaking fast.

“Hotels are not only left with excess supplies of perishables but also committed manpower for the period. The government did not offer any support or assistance leaving hotels high and dry with cancellations pouring in for room bookings planned for Hari Raya holidays,” said the statement on May 8.

While supporting the government’s move to curb the spread of the contagious coronavirus, MAH believed that there is room for improvements in balancing lives vs livelihood of hotels which are badly impacted by the interstate travel restrictions. 

Since the beginning of Ramadan, hotels had adjusted their breaking fast buffets to the new norm, with added SOPs in place to ensure hygiene and safety of guests.

Industry players are willing to impose stricter SOPs such as lowering capacity limit, served-buffet service or limit of two per table, increased screening and even mandatory testing for hotel guests from another state or district checking-in. 

“Government needs to consider these options before imposing blanket bans, to allow the industry to at least survive on its own. We have seen similar situations in other countries and the governments there provide subsidies to businesses for losses due to the inability to operate, in accordance to either business hours affected or volume, whichever applicable,” said MAH president Datuk N Subramaniam.

Looking at the deteriorating situation that will likely be extended, Malaysia needs to plan ahead with a systematic subsidy system for businesses affected by the MCO.

“The government must also speed up vaccination plans especially for economic frontliners like hoteliers and find ways to procure more vaccines. At the current rate, it is highly unlikely that Malaysia will achieve herd immunity any time soon,” he added.

With the recent increase in cases, MAH suggested the government to consider commencing mass testing and isolating those tested positive to prevent further spread. 

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