Press statement by DAP Secretary-General and MP For Bagan, Lim Guan Eng in Kuala Lumpur on 19 December 2020:
How Can The Tourism Sector Survive The Loss Of RM100 Billion In 2020 Without Any Concrete Tourism Survival Plan To Compensate For Its Gargantuan Losses?
As we enter the end of the year holiday season, the tourism sector is in a depressed state with local tourists failing to compensate for the loss of foreign tourists. Budget 2021 has allocated a mere RM200 million to revitalise domestic tourism and the arts and culture industry.
Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri revealed in Parliament recently, that the tourism sector faces a shocking RM100 billion in losses this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. States reliant on tourism such as Sabah, Selangor, Penang and Johor have seen unprecedented business closures and job losses, raising some questions as to whether there will be any significant tourism sector left once the COVID-19 pandemic ends.
The PN Federal government should do much more for tourist guides, in-bound and outbound tourist agencies, express bus operators and hoteliers. For an industry in severe distress, a higher wage subsidy based on percentage should be offered instead of the monthly RM 600, such as 50% for employees earning up to RM4,000 a month and 30% for employees earning between RM4,001 and RM8,000.
At the same time PH has suggested earlier there should be an increase in monthly welfare assistance to RM1,000 including the unemployed. One-off payments are just band-aid to unemployed and does not help the industry players to survive and remain in the tourism industry when it recovers. Further, there should be an automatic extension of the bank loan moratorium, excluding the Top 20, RM500 wage and RM300 hiring incentives every month to create more job opportunities for locals and an additional RM10 billion in financial aid to SMEs especially in the tourism industry.
Without the above-stated urgent financial measures from the PN Federal government, how can the tourism sector survive the loss of RM100 billion in 2020 without any concrete tourism survival plan to compensate for its gargantuan losses? The present financial grants and loan credits are insufficient, and the loudest complaint is the difficulty to secure loans from banks.
The tourism industry is the biggest victim of Malaysia’s triple crisis of political instability, economic recession and COVID-19 public health pandemic. Failure to address the triple crisis has contributed to Malaysia suffering the humiliation of being the first ASEAN country to have our sovereign credit ratings being downgraded by Fitch ratings agency, the first time since the 1997/98 Asian Financial Crisis.
And yet the Tourism Ministry continues to adopt an “ostrich in the sand approach” by predicting that the average hotel occupancy for 2020 will be 61.1% and 58.4% in 2021. How can the Tourism Ministry stick to its projections of 61.1% hotel occupancy for 2020 when the tourism industry faces RM100 billion in losses this year? Such false and unrealistic rosy projections will damage public confidence that the government knows how to do its job to save our tourism industry.
Lim Guan Eng,
MP for Bagan.