RESTRICTION for state and border crossing has a negative bearing on the tourism industry. Despite being allowed to operate, it is impossible to achieve a reasonable occupancy ratio, let alone making any profits.
Since tourism is related to adventure activities and tours by the public, they cannot travel anywhere because of the restriction.
Do not misunderstand as I do not intend to talk about the legitimacy of inter-state crossing or other bans. What I want to emphasize here is, the fate of those who are directly or indirectly involved in this sector.
It is not just about the losses faced by hotel operators but also the fate of their employees. Not just about the twist of fate befalling the resorts and hotels but the impact on the downstream industry.
Food traders, handicrafts, clothing and many more are mostly run by small entrepreneurs. They have endured this torment for a long time and still bear it to this day.
We were informed a few days ago that relaxation across district and state borders will only be considered after 80 per cent of the people are vaccinated. We were also told that the National COVID-19 Immunization Program will only achieve that number by February 2022.
Does this mean that those involved in the tourism sector will have to suffer for another year? I am worried that most entrepreneurs and workers in the tourism sector will not be able to survive for the next 12 months. Do not forget that the tourism industry is one of the biggest contributors to our gross national income.
We were told last year that about one million tourism sector workers in Malaysia were worried about losing their jobs following the spread of COVID-19 infection. Therefore, in my opinion, the assistance given to entrepreneurs in the tourism sector needs to be enhanced in enabling them survive the torrid time.
Financial institutions should also extend loan repayment assistance for a more significant period or until the public is allowed to travel again.
Do not think too much about this assistance because they are also contributors to the economic development of the country before and after the COVID-19 pandemic ends.
AHMAD ZAHID HAMIDI