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Tourism sector must stick to SOP to prevent another Covid-19 wave

30 Jun 2020 / 22:19 H.

GEORGE TOWN: All service providers in the tourism sector have been advised to adhere to the standard operating procedure (SOP) to prevent another wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Association of Tourism Attractions Penang (Attap) said that otherwise, industry players face possible bankruptcy if another lockdown is imposed.

Attap chairman Ch’ng Huck Theng said the operators or owners of tourist attractions must observe the SOP strictly when admitting visitors into their premises.

“This includes investing in high-end disinfection technology and imposing additional preventive measures even though the Health Ministry is already easing up some of the requirements,” he said.

Under the recovery movement control order, which is currently in place, various restrictions have been or are due to be lifted.

Ch’ng said that while the additional measures could raise costs, industry players must invest time and effort to ensure hygiene at all times.

“If we become complacent, the coronavirus may strike again. We cannot afford that,” he added.

Pending the production of a vaccine, Ch’ng said, the best the industry can do now is to undertake effective mitigation measures.

“It may be cumbersome to take and record every visitor’s temperature, but this has to be done, and the tourist must understand that this is also for their safety and security,” he said when launching the reactivation of the tourism sector in Penang.

The travel industry is a major contributor to the state’s coffers, accounting for 6% of its gross domestic product. There were five million visitors to the state in 2018, and each spent about RM1,800 during their visit.

At the same event, state executive councillor for tourism Yeoh Soon Hin and officials of Global Tourism Sdn Bhd unveiled a new portal called penangtraveldeals.com, a one-stop referral centre for everything related to tourism.

Chairman of the Penang chapter of the Malaysian Association of Hotels Khoo Boo Lim said that there are signs that tourist arrival is picking up in view of the better occupancy averages but cautioned the owners against expecting too much too fast.

Khoo said that it will take time to recover, especially for the owners and operators, who opted to close longer than usual.

In Penang, three major hotels have closed down until further notice.

But on the positive side, the biggest holder of hospitality assets, MBI Group, will restart its hotel business after executing a downsizing exercise and renovations.

Some hotels have also begun to reduce staff numbers and some have shut down portions of the properties in view of the huge drop in demand.

In Langkawi, the island’s businesses association deputy president Datuk Issac Alexander spoke of the need for a continuous marketing campaign, while at the same time to introduce new products to woo tourists.

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