The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) is urging the incumbent Minister of Finance to support the country's tourism businesses currently in extreme financial distress.
"The Malaysian tourism industry is on the brink of total collapse and the Ministry of Finance needs to be specific in its allocation to not only preserve tourism business and workers but to prepare and empower the industry for a major comeback," said MATTA President Datuk Tan Kok Liang.
"Don’t ignore the industry now just because borders remain closed and because there is not much tourism activity. Our companies are in bad shape due to regulatory constraints imposed by the government while other countries are recovering at a faster rate in their battle against Covid," he said, adding that in 2019, Malaysia's foreign tourists revenue of RM 89.1 billion (US$21 billion) far exceeded palm oil exports (RM 70 billion) and rubber gloves (RM 22 billion).
The association head also said that the recent news of Langkawi's opening is but a "small travel bubble", and urged Minister of Finance Tengku Zafrul to extend the wage subsidy, automatic bank loan moratorium and waiver of interest until at least the end of 2021.
"We have taken business loans in 2020 in anticipation that the government will overcome the pandemic but today, tourism activities remain restricted and we are made to pay the bank instalments and interest with no revenue. How are we to sustain? The irony is that while the greater economy suffers, financial institutions are recording billions in profits during the pandemic!
"The Ministry of Finance needs to provide practical financial assistance beyond tax incentives or tax rebates or deferment of tax instalments which we are unable to benefit from because tourism companies have already accumulated tax losses in 2020 and 2021. By now, we have more than enough tax losses to ofset any 'so called forecasted profits'.
"We urge the Minister of Finance to announce direct and accessible financial support in the National Budget 2022 next month," concluded Tan.