Image credit: Marketing Interactive

KUALA LUMPUR: The Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (Motac) and Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) will announce by the middle of this month the mechanism under Penjana (National Economic Recovery Plan) Tourism Financing (PTF) worth RM1 billion.

Motac secretary-general Datuk Dr Noor Zari Hamat said PTF will benefit all industry players, especially the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to ensure they remain viable and competitive in the new normal.

“With other initiatives that have been put in place, we are quite assured that the tourism industry can move forward and drive back the industry to its normal track,” he said this in a Webinar session entitled ‘Domestic Tourism in the New Normal’, co-organised by Motac and BNM yesterday.

The tourism industry lost RM45 billion in the first half of this year due to Covid-19, he said adding that Motac has moved forward to restart the industry with a post-movement Control Order (MCO) recovery plan to boost the industry.

“Among the plan are to restore the confidence of tourists, provide special relief fund for the industry, ensure health safety and hygiene at all tourist attractions and to foster economic development.

“It includes upskilling of human capital, embracing smart tourism by optimising e-marketing or digital promotion, and also resetting the tourism industry,” he said.

Noor Zari said Motac fought hard to ensure the reopening of some of the tourism-culture related activities such as hotels, museums and outdoor activities.

“Based on our record, once we allowed the 13 sectors to re-open with standard operation procedures (SOPs), the occupancy rate has increased from eight per cent in April to about 30 per cent in June. This shows Malaysians love to travel,” he added.

Asked on the outlook of the industry for the next six months to one year (post-Covid-19), Noor Zari said a study conducted by Motac in April showed 30.7 per cent prefer to travel in the next six months to one year period while 63.9 per cent said they opt to travel with family members.

“Highest percentage said they would like to visit the islands and beaches…this is how it would affect the landscape of tourism industry and players need to take into account of this pattern when they come out with travel packages,” he said.

The webinar session was moderated by Islamic Tourism Centre (ITC) director-general Datuk Dr Mohmed Razip Hasan and featured three other panels, Bank Simpanan Nasional chief business officer Mujibburrahman Abd Rashid, the Malaysian Budget Hotel Association (MyBHA) national president Emmy Suraya Hussein and Gaya Travel Magazine editor in chief, Juhan Kamaruddin.

Meanwhile, Emmy Suraya said almost 28 per cent of hotels under MyBHA (2,231 registered members) have been forced to close down due to Covid-19 causing an estimated loss of RM100 million.

“However, with flexibility accorded after June 10, we saw an increase in occupancy rate in specific places. Positive impact in tourism is expected to begin in September and if the borders are open this will bring better impact,” she said.