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Council hopes Budget will help revive tourism industry
Published on: Saturday, November 21, 2020
By: Bernama
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Kuala Lumpur: Following the Covid-19 pandemic which had severely hit the tourism sector, it is hoped that the 2021 Budget will provide some hope to revive the deteriorating tourism industry chains.

Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC) chief executive office Sherene Azli said the allocation of RM35 million to the council to increase competitiveness of domestic health tourism industry, would contribute to ensuring that the country remains as the chosen destination besides catalysing the shift to recovery for the industry.  

Taking into account the ongoing situation, in which competitor countries in Southern Asia such as Singapore, Thailand, South Korea and Taiwan, are still actively promoting, Malaysia would be left behind if no initiatives are taken next year during the economic recovery period, she said.

“The risk is that patients and health tourists will opt for other countries post Covid-19 recovery,” she told Bernama.

Sherene said due to the outbreak, income generated from the health tourism industry had dropped by 70 to 75 per cent this year, compared to last year, causing losses of up to RM1 billion to the industry and RM4 billion to the country’s economy.

“If the industry’s recovery process is delayed, the pandemic negative impact will continue until 2028 to 2030,” she said, adding that health tourism had been identified as an added-value industry and had contributed over eight per cent to the country’s tourism sector revenue in 2019, which was RM7 billion.

She stressed that health tourism also had overflowed effects to other sectors such as tourism, hotel, hospitality, retail and transportation, in creating jobs and business opportunities, especially for small and medium businesses.

“If this factor is considered, it can help stimulate tourism recovery, as well the country’s economy,” quipped Sherene.

The 2021 Budget also allotted RM20 million for infrastructure upgrade and promotion of cultural villages in Terengganu, Melaka, Sarawak and Negeri Sembilan.

Terengganu Tourism Department director Mohd Huzairil Nizam Ibrahim described the allocation as a ‘lifeline’ to the state government’s plan in encouraging arts and cultural activities in its Cultural Village.

“Cultural activists are also hoping that the allocation which was announced would be able to raise their dismal incomes, as there were no activities held due to the outbreak,” he said while urging for the budget to be approved for the continuity of arts and cultural activities, thus reviving the domestic tourism industry.

Meanwhile, Malaysia Bumiputera Tourist Guides Association president Zulkifli Ismail opined that the budget could be improved by focusing more on industry players at all levels.

“The 2021 Budget needs to be approved, however it must consider the interests of those really affected in the tourism field, this is because the budget is not really helping the industry players but more to upgrading tourism destinations.

“There should not be bias in giving out the funds, some affected receive aid while some don’t.. tourist guides, for instance, are given the one-off RM600 assistance and some states increased the amount by RM1,000, the same goes for tourist agents, hotels but others received nothing,” he said.

Meanwhile Malaysian Association Of Tour And Travel Agents (MATTA) president Datuk Tan Kok Liang said the industry players are hoping for a second discussion with Finance Ministry for the sector’s allocation to be reviewed.

“Before the 2021 Budget is approved, the government may want to consider making a special allocation for stakeholders who had probably been left behind,” he added.



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