KUALA LUMPUR – May 20, 2020: The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) wants the government to implement a health accreditation mark for tourism facilities to assist in the post-Covid-19 recovery process.
Matta president, Datuk Tan Kok Liang said an official ‘seal of approval’ – in regards to health and safety standards – would help boost the confidence of local and foreign tourists.
Eligible aviation, hotels, tourist attractions, retail outlets, transportation operations, cruises as well as food and beverage outlets were among the industry players which Tan cited that should be given such mark, certified by the Health as well as Tourism, Arts and Culture ministries.
“No amount of digitalisation, promotions, incentives or freebies can directly help to create demand except to boost the much-needed confidence that it is safe to travel through coordinated efforts with the relevant authorities.
“For example, Visit Britain had recently announced plans for a “quality mark” to be rolled out across the country. The mark will denote to potentially nervous customers that the operators are conforming to government regulations,” read Tan’ statement today.
Singapore, Turkey and Thailand have also taken a cue from Britain and are in the midst of implementing similar certification as a preventive and protective step for tourists as well as to ensure speedy recovery of their tourism industry once travel restrictions are lifted.
Tourism is the third biggest contributor to Malaysia’s total gross domestic product, after manufacturing and commodities, at 13.3 per cent in 2018.
In his keynote parliamentary motion on Monday, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Abdullah Ahmad Shah, has urged the government to revive the tourism industry after the Covid-19 pandemic has basically cancelled the Visit Malaysia 2020 campaign.
Industry players, particularly tourist agents and travel agencies have been badly-hit by the pandemic, as tourism activities were prohibited due to the ongoing lockdown that was enforced in March.
In fact, travel agent Datuk Noor Zaleha Baharuddin — who is also the vice-president of the Malaysian Tourism Council — lamented that many small-time travel agencies have closed shop since lockdown was enforced two month ago due to loss of income.
“We are at our wits ends. We can open our office, but we cannot sell our products. I have attended a lot of virtual engagements with the ministry and Tourism Malaysia; they asked us to get ready for post Covid-19 but up until now nothing is moving,” said Zaleha.
She also remarked that many small-and-medium tourism enterprises were unsuccessful in securing the zero-interest loans from banks which was part of the government economic relief measures to help keep businesses afloat throughout the lockdown.