Tourism stakeholders say it will be difficult to maintain operations until the end of October, when domestic tourism is expected to take off under the final phase of the national recovery plan.
Nigel Wong, secretary-general of the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta), told that resuming local tourism in the latter part of the year would exacerbate the industry's issues.
He said that while some Matta members had been able to diversify their businesses since the pandemic, he claimed that red tape and inconsistent SOPs during the third movement control order (MCO) had made life more difficult for many.
The tourism, arts, and culture ministry allows licensed travel agencies to diversify into other businesses in order to stay in business.
“Many began pivoting towards delivery, logistics, and a variety of other businesses, but they were denied operating permission by Miti (international trade and industry ministry) because they were still registered as travel agencies,” he explained.
Wong said that requests for resolution to agencies such as the land public transport agency, computerised vehicle inspection centre, and road transport department had "fallen on deaf ears."
The Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) said in a statement that it remained hopeful since the government had laid out a roadmap based on data and science to allow the tourism industry to plan ahead for its recovery.
However, it pointed out that the earliest reopening of tourism activities and interstate travels was still several months away.
Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced yesterday that the government's exit strategy calls for all economic sectors to reopen by December.
This will be done in four stages, with the final one in October focusing on social gatherings, cross-border travel, and domestic tourism.
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