KUALA LUMPUR, May 19 2020: Malaysia could promote itself as a safe destination in anticipation of the tourism sector rebounding post-Covid-19.
Tourism Malaysia director-general Datuk Musa Yusof said industry players could do so, such as by capitalising on the reputation of Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah as among the top five persons in the world in managing Covid-19.
“We must promote how safe Malaysia is,” he said, adding that the Hari Raya festive season would serve as a good indicator on how soon the authorities could further ease movement restrictions.
“If nothing happens (no sudden surge in number of cases after Hari Raya), then the government can ease the restrictions later on.
“That is why it is important for Malaysians to take care of each other (to quickly break the chain of transmission),” he said during an online forum on “The Future of Travel, Travel Trends and Market Recovery Post-Covid-19” hosted by Star Media Group last night.
Musa said international tourism traffic could be expected to return in December and for now the focus should be on domestic tourism, and collaboration with neighbouring countries to promote local and regional packages.
“But travellers need assurances that stringent measures are put in place to assure health and safety,” he said.
He said industry players must embrace information and communications technology for marketing and promotion, as part of the new or next normal.
Another speaker at the forum was Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) president Datuk Tan Kok Liang who confirmed that the industry was hard hit by Covid-19.
“If we don’t die of Covid-19, we’ll die of mental suicide, and under-nourishment, as many countries are driven to poverty,” he said.
Malaysia Association of Hotels acting president Mohamad Halim Merican, who was also a speaker at the forum said guests would now likely appreciate a bottle of hand sanitiser as a gift compared to a bottle of wine.
“These are new norms shaping the sector,” he said.
“Ultraviolet lamps and air purifiers are now part of hotel decorations, not flowers,” he said.
He said guests preferred to stay in hotels rather than homestays and bed-and-breakfasts as they can be assured of a high level of safety and a sanitary environment.
He also called on hotel operators to update their websites to keep visitors informed on new policies in place to assure safety.