PETALING JAYA: The tourism industry was the first to suffer when the Covid-19 pandemic hit and it will be the last to recover.
According to Malaysia Inbound Tourism Association (Mita) president Uzaidi Udanis (pix), many of those involved in the industry are finding it hard to sustain.
“The association is working hard to get help for tourism companies and agents.
“We are trying all ways in helping them to secure aid from the stimulus packages and loans announced by the government,” he said.
Uzaidi said they are also trying to work out other means by which agents will be able to sustain for at least six months during this downturn.
“We too have to learn that we cannot continue to rely on the old way of doing business.
“The agents must now learn how to use social media to promote their products but this will come at a cost, for instance those advertising on Facebook will have to pay a fee.”
Uzaidi said they had a trial run for 200 agents via social media to provide them with one-on-one consultation.
This virtual training was a success and they plan to get more people involved, he said.
“We must find a product that can sustain itself while taking into consideration all safety and health measures proposed by the government.”
Uzaidi said we have to reset the tourism industry and come up with packages that will suit the local market.
He said one major problem facing some in the industry is servicing loans taken from credit companies.
They fall under the Housing and Local Government Ministry and not Bank Negara, therefore the loan moratorium does not apply to them, said Uzaidi.
He said credit companies should follow the moratorium. If they were to repossess a bus, they will find it hard to sell the vehicle as there are no buyers.
Outbound tour travel manager Damian Mok said it is unlikely that the industry will pick up by the end of this year.
He said it will take at least one year before people start travelling and going on tours again.
“I am a freelancer, there are about 1,000 of us and we have zero income because there are no outgoing tour packages.
“I am lucky that I can rely on my savings until the industry picks up.
“Due to the movement control order, people cannot go out and find other jobs to help sustain themselves,” he said.
Mok said he deals with tour packages to Europe and because it has been badly hit by the virus, the industry will take a long time to pick up.
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Tour operators struggle to stay afloat