KUALA LUMPUR, 29 October: The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) welcomes a recent statement by the Minister of Finance Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul that the budget 2022 will focus on the tourism sector, which had been badly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture had reported that
the whole tourism industry lost more than MYR135billion in 2020, and for 2021,
it is expected the loss to be more than MYR165billion.

MATTA hopes that the budget will be “generous” towards the tourism industry with specific and targeted assistance, especially for the tour operators and travel agencies who have been a main contributor and catalyst to the development of the tourism industry.

“Rehabilitating tourism businesses involve providing soft
loans for the companies to rebuild an infrastructure that has collapsed, staff
retention, retraining and providing support to meet consumers expectations and
its competitiveness as a preferred destination in this region”.

“Due to the pandemic, current tourism strategies will
be local before global. As such, the 2022 budget should focus on providing
travel stimulus packages and tax incentives for personal and corporate travel
“. Given the limitations of domestic tourism, the government must
fast-track framework and travel solutions to expedite opening the border for
international tourists”.

“After waiting for 20 months while seeing other
countries successfully containing Covid -19 and reviving their tourism
industry, Malaysian tourism players are eager to get started and look forward
to smart public-private partnership initiatives.”

MATTA president, Datuk Tan Kok Liang, said that MATTA had submitted to the Ministry of Finance our proposals and wish list for the National Budget 2022 to urgently help a critically injured economic sector and the stakeholders involved in it.

REHABILITATE BUSINESS

MATTA had urged the Ministry of Finance to set up a
“Tourism Recovery & Growth Fund” to provide financial support to
all stakeholders and private sector companies in the tourism industry to
restart, revive, sustain and grow their respective sectors now and into the
future. The fund to provide at least MYR5billion for a start, as a soft loan
facility, with 1% interest and the repayment period of seven years. The soft
loan is to have easy terms for application and fast-track approval for the
companies to restart and rebuild their business for promotion, marketing and
selling their holiday packages.

DOMESTIC TRAVEL STIMULUS

The country needs to revive the “Domestic Travel
Stimulus Programme” for the consumers to buy subsidized domestic holidays
from licensed travel agencies/tour operators. The programme should start with
at least MYR500 million in its fund to help revive, re-stimulate, and revitalize
domestic travel and holiday-making by the consumers at a subsidised price and
also provide business back to the travel agencies/tour operators.

FUNDING FOR INTERNATIONAL BRANDING

MATTA urges the Ministry of Finance to provide a sufficient
budget for the government agency concerned and travel-related associations to
carry out more aggressive promotion and marketing internationally to market
Malaysia as a safe and viable tourism destination. We must act fast and
decisively to rebuild our country as a tourist preferred destination as we are
competing with neighbouring countries for the same market share of tourists and
tourism dollars.

“We wish to reiterate the Ministry of Finance needs to
provide practical financial assistance beyond tax incentives, or tax rebates or
deferment of tax instalments for tourism companies because we are unable to
benefit due to accumulated losses in 2020 and 2021”.

Tourism employs about 3.6 million people, and the travel
agencies/tour operators’ sector alone employed more than 100,000 people. When
the pandemic hit the industry, many tourism workers were laid off as companies
went into hibernation or even closed completely.