KUALA LUMPUR, 23 September 2021: Malaysia’s tourism industry
is on the verge of collapse and desperately needs a financial lifeline from the
country’s national budget 2022, according to the Malaysian Association of Tour
and Travel Agents.

MATTA’s president Datuk Tan Kok Liang made the plea to the
Minister of Finance, Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Azizto, calling on
him to be upfront in efforts to help tourism businesses.

“The Malaysian tourism industry is on the brink of
total collapse, and the Ministry of Finance needs to be specific in its
allocation to not only preserve tourism business and workers but to prepare and
empower the industry for a major comeback,” the MATTA president explained
in a statement released Wednesday.

In 2019, Malaysia welcomed 26 million foreign tourists with
an estimated revenue of MYR 89.1 billion, exceeding the exports of palm oil at
MYR70 billion and rubber gloves at MYR22 billion.

“Don’t ignore the industry now just because borders
remain closed and because there is not much tourism activity. Our companies are
in bad shape due to regulatory constraints imposed by the government while
other countries are recovering at a faster rate in their battle against
Covid-19, MATTA’s president stated.

“As borders have remained closed for the last 18 months
and with just a small travel bubble for Langkawi, we plead with the Minister of
Finance Tengku Zafrul to provide targeted assistance for tourism businesses and
workers directly affected. This includes providing an extension of the wage
subsidy and automatic bank loan moratorium and waiver of interest at least
until the end of this year for borrowers directly impacted by the
pandemic.”

“We took business loans in 2020 in anticipation that
the government will overcome the pandemic, but today, tourism activities remain
restricted, and we are made to pay the bank instalments and interest with no
revenue. How are we to sustain? The irony is that while the greater economy
suffers, financial institutions are recording billions in profits during the
pandemic.”

“The Ministry of Finance needs to provide practical
financial assistance beyond tax incentives or tax rebates or deferment of tax
instalments which we are unable to benefit from because tourism companies have
already accumulated tax losses in 2020 and 2021. By now, we have more than
enough tax losses to offset any ‘so-called forecasted profits’.”

MATTA welcomed the recent statement by the former Minister
of Finance YB Lim Guan Eng, who reminded the government not to set the tourism
industry aside. Lim urged the government to provide further subsidies to
workers in the tourism industry, waive the interest for bank loans during the
moratorium, provide grants and subsidies on rentals and utilities to businesses
that had survived last year’s RM 100 billion in losses.

“We have the potential to recover swiftly to bolster
the national economy, but does the Finance Minister have the same confidence?
We urge the Minister of Finance to announce direct and accessible financial
support in the National Budget 2022 next month,” concluded Tan.

(Source: MATTA)