Hotels may be shutting down for good over the coming months: MAH

29 Apr 2020 / 20:25 H.

GEORGE TOWN: Several hotels may shut the door for good in the coming months unless the federal government extends a lifeline to them soon.

The Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) claimed that almost half of its member hotels have already indicated they were considering the option of folding up their business.

MAH chief executive officer Yap Lip Seng put the blame on the economic downturn.

However, 35% of them also indicated they could restart operations if the economy picks up, while the remaining 15% said they would close for good.

Yap estimated hotels would start closing down by the end of the year considering travel will be restricted, if not stopped altogether because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Globally, more than two million people have already been infected and as of Sunday, nearly 200,000 have died from the infection.

MAH recently conducted an internal survey of its more than 1,000 registered members who collectively own or operate 164,000 hotel rooms in the country.

From their responses, Yap said, the federal government had to raise its wage subsidy to 75% for hotels with more than 1,000 workers to help them survive the economic downturn. This will match the quantum given to hotels in Singapore by the republic’s government.

In an interview with theSun, Yap said there is also a need to fastrack a recovery in the tourism industry.

“Hotels are looking at potential losses of up to RM3.3 billion just from room revenue alone for the first six months of this year, he pointed out,” he said.

The tourism industry is among the worst hit economic segments as travelling is no longer considered safe for now by many countries. And with lockdowns, many governments have closed their doors to visitors.

Besides the hotels, airlines and travel agencies, as well as the food and beverage businesses are among those that are badly affected by the pandemic.

Earlier, Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri acknowledged in an online travel forum that the industry is expected to shed up to one million jobs this year.

She also said the news of job losses was disturbing to the government too, considering all its plans for 2020, including “Visit Malaysia Year 2020”.

She said that the ministry was now meeting with various stakeholders to discuss how best to address the issue, but conceded that it will take time to restore confidence back into the industry.

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