Tourism sector in crucial need of aid

By TIN Media | Tourism Malaysia Published 4 months ago on 31 May 2021
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The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) is urging the government to grant some type of tax relief to approximately 3,000 of its members who are suffering from a lack of tourist revenues and are deeply in debt.

“Any type of tax relief would be good, given that the travel and tourism sector receives very little financial assistance,” said Nigel Wong, MATTA's secretary-general, noting that 90 percent of the sector's 47,000 workers are unemployed.

MATTA also wants the bank loan moratorium to be extended to include leasing businesses, as majority of the buses and vans used by travel and tour businesses are leased, he said.

Since the Covid-19 outbreak hit last year, bringing businesses to a halt, maintaining the fleet of transport vehicles, such as buses and vans, has become financially problematic, according to Wong.

"Based on our study of 3,000 MATTA members alone, we believe that there are close to, if not more than, 9,000 automobiles categorized as Bas Persiaran" (excursion buses). To put it in perspective, a 40-seater tour bus can cost between RM490,000 and RM580,000, which means that lease and loan payments might be excessive, especially given the present recession, ” he said.

MATTA is calling for specific steps to help reduce the financial load and cost, as well as to help the industry retain its talent pool and prepare for better days.

“Travel agencies alone employed more than 47,000 individuals, according to our poll of our 3,000 members, but the official number is substantially higher because not all travel agencies are MATTA members.

“We believe that over 90% of that workforce has been laid off or placed on unpaid leave,” he added, adding that the figure may not include freelancers like tourist guides and contract workers who work directly with travel brokers.

He also believes the government should relax statutory rules on travel and tour enterprises, such as lowering Employees Provident Fund contributions and eliminating Human Resource Development payments.


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