KUALA LUMPUR – The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) has been in high-level talks with industry stakeholders to discuss the impact of coronavirus on inbound tourism to Malaysia and to prepare a recovery programme once the outbreak subsides.
The decision to suspend all China flight routes to and from Sabah is a bold move by the state government and one that is designed to protect the people currently in Sabah, including tourists.
In a statement, MATTA said it was committed to supporting the government’s effort to contain the spread of the 2019-nCoV (Wuhan coronavirus) “and to look into recovery measures designed to mitigate the losses suffered by the tourism industry”.
In a series of meetings held over two days, MATTA joined in talks with the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC) and the Ministry of Health (MOH) on ”the very real challenges faced by the industry and ways to help the Malaysian tourism industry weather the storm”.
MATTA has proposed forward-looking recovery measures which include preparations to vigorously promote Malaysia to China once it is safe for Chinese tourists to travel, and to harness the power of big data to implement smart strategies that can be applied immediately “to keep the Malaysian tourism industry robust and flexible during this time of crisis”.
The island of Langkawi said Jan. 30 that since the Wuhan outbreak around 30% of its hotel bookings have been cancelled.
“Chinese tourists of course cancelled 100%, but due to the virus and the spread of fake news on social media, local tourists cancelled their reservations, too,” said Kedah/Perlis Malaysian Association of Hotels chapter vice-chairman Razmi Rahmat.
In a further statement, MATTA said it “understands and respects” Sabah’s decision to suspend all direct flights from China to Sabah until the situation normalises.
MATTA president Datuk Tan Kok Liang said, “The decision to suspend all China flight routes to and from Sabah is a bold move by the state government and one that is designed to protect the people currently in Sabah, including tourists.
“We hope that this will only be a temporary measure and that this ban will quickly be lifted as soon as the situation subsides and that travel between Sabah and China will resume as normal.
“MATTA’s position throughout this crisis has been consistent in that we have always placed the health, safety and security of people, both Malaysians and tourists alike, as top priority.”