Malaysia's tourism players prepare for new normal, anticipate rebound post-Covid-19

Tourism Malaysia director-general Datuk Musa Yusof.
PHOTO: The Star/Asia News Network

PETALING JAYA - Tourism Malaysia is capitalising on Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah's global recognition to promote Malaysia as a safe destination in anticipation of the tourism sector rebounding post-Covid-19.

Tourism Malaysia director-general Datuk Musa Yusof said industry players should capitalise on the fact that Dr Noor Hisham was recognised as being in the top five in the world in managing Covid-19.

"We must promote how safe Malaysia is," he said.

The Hari Raya festive season would serve as a good indicator on how soon the authorities would start easing movement restrictions, he said.

"If nothing happens (no sudden surge in number of cases after Hari Raya), then the government can ease the restrictions later on.

"That is why it is important for Malaysians to take care of each other (to quickly break the chain of transmission)," he said, stressing the importance of observing social distancing and good hygiene practices.

Musa was among three speakers who took part in an online forum on "The Future of Travel, Travel Trends and Market Recovery Post-Covid-19" organised and hosted by MATTA in collaboration with Star Media Group on May 18.

Musa said that internationally, perhaps tourism traffic could be expected in December.

Meanwhile, the focus should be on domestic tourism, and collaboration with neighbouring countries to promote local and regional packages.

"But travellers need assurances that stringent measures are put in place to assure health and safety," he said.

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Even as Europe has started opening borders, movements were restricted to neighbouring countries for now, he noted.

He said the industry players must embrace information and communications technology for marketing and promotion, as part of the new or next normal.

Tourism Malaysia was expecting its e-roadshow to attract 1,000 participants from various countries.

Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) president Datuk Tan Kok Liang said the industry was hard hit by Covid-19.

"If we don't die of Covid-19, we'll die of mental suicide, and under-nourishment, as many countries are driven to poverty," he said.

Malaysia Association of Hotels acting president Mohamad Halim Merican said guests would likely appreciate a bottle of hand sanitiser as a gift compared to a bottle of wine.

"These are new norms shaping the sector," he said.

"Ultraviolet lamps and air purifiers are now part of hotel decorations, not flowers," he said.

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He said guests preferred to stay in hotels rather than homestays and bed-and-breakfasts as they can be assured of a high level of safety and a sanitary environment.

He also called on hotel operators to update their websites to keep visitors informed on new policies in place to assure safety.

Moderator Nigel Wong said the forum was aimed at highlighting the new norms, and measures that need to be taken to address the changes shaping the industry.

For the latest updates on the coronavirus, visit here.