BY SITI NURAIN RATANI
KUCHING: The tourism industry was among the hardest hit when the Covid-19 pandemic struck the nation around March last year.
The subbsequent movement control order (MCO) aimed to reduce transmission and flatten the Covid-19 curve also caused many travel agencies to close shop or see a huge reduction to their profit.
To ensure that the tourism industry survive, the Sarawak government rolled out financial assistance amounting to RM1.63mil on a one-off basis, including RM3,000 for 216 licensed tourist agencies as well as RM600 for 568 licensed homestay operators.
According to Permata Pugu Campsite Lundu founder Muhd Hafizan Tambi, since the MCO and conditional MCO were implemented last year, the number of visitors to his homestay had dropped dramatically and at times, there were no customers at all.
“The salaries of employees still needed to be paid.
“Therefore, I’m grateful when Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg announced various aid under the Sarawakku Sayang Special Assistance (BKSS) 6.0, including for tourism industry players.
“Through this assistance, I’m able to pay my employees’ salaries, electricity bills and so on,” said Muhd Hafizan, who is also the founder of Hafizan Homestay Sematan.
Another homestay operator, Dayang Masnuyah Abang Ahmad, said she was a bit disappointed as she had to close her homestay due to the MCO and CMCO.
“We are very depressed, especially when Kuching and Lundu are still listed in the red zone category until now.
“Despite not being able to operate and maintenance work could not be done, we still carry out cleaning work as usual to ensure our homestay is always clean and tidy at all times.”
Commenting on the financial assistance for licensed homestay operators, Dayang, who is also the assistant manager at Dayang Homestay Sematan, said the aid would be used to repair any damage at her homestay as well as to settle any rent arrears.
“Although we are not able to operate as usual, I strongly agree with the government’s action to implement the MCO once again in order to curb the spread of Covid-19.”