Malaysia's tourism players have expressed their deep concerns of keeping the country's current travel restrictions in place, after health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah reportedly announced that interstate and inter-district travel might remain until at least 70% of Putrajaya's population have been vaccinated.
Head honchos of Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA), Malaysian Tourist Guides Council (MTGC) and Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) all concur that the tourism industry simply cannot afford to wait out the vaccination process in the country.
MATTA president Tan Kok Liang pointed out that such a move would effectively cut the industry's hopes of recovery in 2021, according to a Free Malaysia Today report.
“Every business establishment should be allowed to carry out its economic activities while embracing the highest level of safety standards to contain Covid-19. Innocent and conscientious travellers should not be victims of blanket interstate and inter-district travel bans," said Tan.
Putting forth similar arguments, MAH president N Subramaniam projected the hotel industry could not afford even just another month for state borders to open, as that could potentially mean more hotels would close down if travel does not resume by 4 March, according to the report.
"Malaysia’s projection is that only 80% of the population would be vaccinated by the first quarter of 2022. If we go by that timeline, the entire industry would be closed," said Subramaniam, who added that the government's wage subsidy programme is due to end this month.
Penang State EXCO for Tourism Development, Arts, Culture and Heritage, Yeoh Soon Hin, has too urged the government to "provide more targeted subsidies, to keep the tourism industry sustained while Federal secures the necessary vaccination supply".
In his Facebook post on 1 March, Yeoh said that while he understands "the intention behind this consideration in order to contain the spread of the pandemic during this time with the worrying high number of cases...I hope that the Federal Government will take into account the severe repercussions of this ban to the tourism industry and those who depend on this industry to make a living".