AssociationRescue package sought to revive tourism sector, or Malaysia risks losing out further to regional competitors.

MATTA calls for urgent government help as tourism businesses struggle

KLIA needs a new satellite to improve passenger connections, MATTA says.
KLIA needs a new satellite to improve passenger connections, MATTA says. Photo Credit: Adobe Stock/Markus Mainka

The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) is calling on the central government to introduce a package of measures in a bid to revitalise the country’s struggling tourism businesses.

Among the measures: MATTA is calling for tax relief of RM5,000 (US$1,400) for individual taxpayers and their families to spend on domestic travel within Malaysia will further enhance domestic tourism; a revamp of existing visa procedures, and a new satellite at Kuala Lumpur International Airport to “better facilitate the efficient mobility of passengers from terminal to terminal”.

“The current state of the aerotrain service and the backup bus service leaves much to be desired. Clearly, this offers a poor first-impression of the nation,” MATTA said.

MATTA president Tan Kok Liang noted that from 2009 to 2019, international tourist arrivals ranged between 23.7 million and 26.1 million, “indicating that Malaysia remains a largely static tourism destination, except for a one-time high of 27.4 million arrivals in 2014 owing to Visit Malaysia Year 2014”.

“It is evident that earlier national budgets were ineffective in boosting the country's tourism sector and placing it in a ‘comfort zone’ whilst other ASEAN destinations experienced extremely high growth rates,” he added.

“We have been losing ground to nearby competitors such as Singapore, Bangkok and Jakarta. Likewise, Langkawi is losing out to Phuket and Bali for the same obvious reasons. Despite knowing that our tropical climate can be either excessively hot or wet, the comfort of passengers is not given adequate consideration,” Tan said.

“MATTA also wants to increase arrivals from high-potential source markets, in particular India and China, by revamping existing visa procedures, including the introduction of multiple-entry visas valid for one year, visa-on-arrival (VOA) facilities, and lower visa costs.

“To revitalise the tourism industry, the national government could also consider investing more funds towards the launch of ‘VISIT Malaysia Year 2024’,” Tan added.

MATTA wants the federal budget to be more focused on ‘destination visibility’ advertising, as well as the enhancement of tourist products and infrastructure, “while at the same time providing enough assistance for tourism stakeholders to strengthen in the aftermath of the Covid pandemic”.

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