It’s good that Malaysia hasn’t forgotten the little guys – the tour guides and the trishaw drivers – who are often invisible people when it comes to recognising those who also contribute to the tourism economy.
KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysia’s tourism industry has reacted favourably to an economic stimulus package of RM20 billion (US$4.7 billion) announced by prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad to counter the impact of the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.
Among the measures designed to stimulate the economy: Businesses in the tourism sector will be allowed to defer monthly income tax instalment payments from April to September. Companies affected by Covid-19 are allowed to revise profit estimates for 2020 with respect to the payments without penalty.
Hotels, travel agencies, airlines, shopping malls, conventions and exhibition centres will enjoy a 15% discount on monthly electricity bills from April to September.
A sum of RM500 million (US$118.2) will be allocated for digital tourism vouchers and promotions. The vouchers of up to RM100 per person can be used for domestic flights, railway travel and hotel accommodation.
The Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) CEO Yap Lip Seng said while the package did not completely address current challenges, the commitment by the government was encouraging.
“The stimulus package addresses our two main concerns directly, that is to ease cash flow and financial burden as well as to drive tourism,” he said.
Mr Yap noted that the government also took MAH’s proposal on special deductions, grants and incentives for training and development.
The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) president Datuk Tan Kok Liang said the association was happy the government covered many sectors and included requests made by many stakeholders.
He added, “Although MATTA had requested several other measures, such as granting free visas to Indian tourists and double tax deduction for local companies for sending staff to MICE events, to be included in the economic stimulus package, the priority now is for all to start working on recovery measures.”
Other benefits in the package were a one-off payment of RM600 given to travel-related drivers such as taxi drivers, bus/coach/van drivers, and registered trishaw-drivers and tourist guides.
For the airline sector, Malaysia Airports Holding Berhad will provide rebates for rental at the airports, as well as landing and parking charges.