Weekly Highlights

Why talk about flying when we can’t even run?

Minister of Tourism Datuk Nancy Shukri claimed that a green lane with Indonesia would revive the tourism sector. I regret to hear the above statement. With Covid-19 high caseload in Indonesia, a safe green lane is not realistic.

Even a green lane with Singapore, where many Malaysians reside, is deemed difficult to implement due to a spike in Covid-19 cases in Malaysia. It is more realistic to have strategic planning now for domestic travel as that will definitely come sooner.

I am disappointed that both the Federal Government and the Johor State Government have not done much strategic thinking for the tourism sector, which is an important source of employment for many.

I urge the Minister to be more thoughtful and be realistic in thinking of how to let our domestic industry survive and revive first.” -Liao Cai Tung

With the second Movement Control Order, the tourism industry and stakeholders such as hotel owners, workers, both in-bound and out-bound tour guides, airline crew, tour bus operators and etc, do not know how they would survive if this drags on.

Millions are on the verge of losing jobs and livelihoods. The government must not sit back and do nothing.

The Federal Government and the Johor State Government must at least be frank and truthful about the dire situations we are in and try their best to help those stakeholders involved.

What are the scenarios?

First, the Governments must be honest with those involved that even with a successful vaccine rollout programme, which the Government says would take 18 months to inoculate 70% of the population, some forms of normalcy in tourism may only return after mid-2022, if not later.

Second, even after mid-2022, international travels around the world may be less frequent than pre-2020 for quite a long time. In the next 2 to 5 years to come, we will anticipate less mass international tourism.

Third, less Malaysians will go overseas for travelling but may travel a lot more domestically in Malaysia.

Fourth, we have to accept that more people are now accustomed to online meetings and therefore tourists coming for international conferences and conventions will not return to the pre-2020 numbers for a long time.

Fifth, jobs won’t return in full strength to pre-2020 in tour guides, hotels and aviation for some years as international traveling is reduced.

These scenarios are important for strategic thinking for the tourism sector.

Hence, The Governments must not sit back and do nothing. The Federal Government and Johor State Government should plan to “Build Back Better”. From now to mid-2022, the Governments should invest in

1) Employ hotel crew, flight crew, airport crew and tour guides on contract basis to help fight covid 19. They are experienced in handling logistics and people management. Instead of giving small one time token sums of a few hundreds as financial aids, the government should act proactively to employ them to do back-end support for the heavily loaded health sector such as contact tracing of Covid-19, prioritising cases for quarantine centre and etc.

2. Training programmes with scholarships/stipends for tour guides and those in the broader tourism sectors to improve their language skills, knowledge about tourism destinations, service skills etc so that when businesses return, these workers will have already acquired better skills to meet a smaller international tourist crowd but each prepare to spend more if we can upgrade the general level of services and experiences.

3. Tourist destinations sites owned and managed by the government should be upgraded during this “downtime” caused by Covid19, which probably will only see some conclusions in mid-2022. The investments by the Government can create employment.

4. There is a need for the Government to provide strategic thinking for the sector by providing soft loan or loan guarantees under CGC to help tourist destinations and site owners such as Zoo Negara to tide over till “reopening” post mid-2022.

Why talk about flying when we can’t even walk or run? The immediate focus of the government should be to tell our tourism industry players what to expect in the next 18 months, ways to help them to survive and how to restart business post pandemic

Liow Cai Tung

ADUN Johor Jaya

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *