KUALA LUMPUR – The Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) said that hotels could continue to service existing and long-staying guests, albeit with limited services, but not receive new guests during the country’s two-week shutdown.
We are in talks with key vendors such as Astro, for a reduction in fees and discount for the period up to December 2020. Hotels are currently paying them for empty rooms and services not utilised,
MAH issued a statement on Tuesday after discussions with the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture that hotels can “operate on limited services that includes allowing in-house guests whom had checked-in (before 18 March 2020) to stay until the intended check-out date”.
It recommends that in-house guests remain in the room throughout the two-week movement control order (MCO).
The ministry is seeking clearer guidance from the Malaysian National Security Council, a federal agency under the Prime Minister's Department, which is in charge of the MCO that started on Wednesday (18 March).
MAH also said that “no new check-ins are allowed from 18 to 31 March 2020 for all, including local Malaysians”.
MAH’s CEO Yap Lip Seng also said in the statement that hotel room bookings as of 16 March amounted to 170,085 room nights, which are valued at RM68 million (US$15.4 million).
“The cancellation of bookings represents the current impact caused by the Covid-19 but we are more concerned with the loss of demand for the coming months. We foresee that the losses will double by end of the year,” Yap said.
MAH also presented proposals for a second economic stimulus, mainly focused on easing cash flow for tourism businesses as well as to assist the industry to rebound.
The proposed initiatives include reduction of employers’ contribution to EPF, increasing discount for electricity to 30%, extending the discount for water, waiver of quit rent and assessment for tourism properties and also a monthly payroll subsidy for employees earning RM2,000 and below.
He also repeated the call for the ministry to review the tourism tax rate and consider revising the tax down from RM10 to RM1.
MAH is also pursuing negotiations with local service providers and suppliers to hotels, to extend a fair discount to hotels for this period. “We are in talks with key vendors such as Astro, for a reduction in fees and discount for the period up to December 2020. Hotels are currently paying them for empty rooms and services not utilised,” explained Yap.
There were some 3,126 hotels in Malaysia with 246,564 rooms at the end of 2017, according to figures from the government's National Property Information Centre.