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KUCHING: With the stringent procedures on visitors’ entry into Sarawak, the hotel industry hopes that both the state and federal governments will provide a lifeline subsidy for tourism key players during the tabling of the national and state Budgets next month.

Sarawak Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) chairman Mohd Ibrahim Nordin said he hoped both the state and federal tourism ministries will increase the budget on subsidies and incentives to stir domestic tourism.

“This will help the tourism industry to be competitive and sustainable to cover high operational costs,” he told New Sarawak Tribune recently.

He explained that the enforcement of the conditional movement control order (CMCO) at several states had sealed off interstate travel; reducing domestic tourism in Sarawak to meagre numbers.

He said tourism industry players now can only hope that the year-end school holidays could make up for their losses.

“To attract the domestic market, we must be competitive. The current situation of the domestic market is due to the closure of our international borders.

“Therefore, Sarawak MAH is looking at ways to stir up the domestic market, via intrastate and interstate travellers.

“The hotel industry’s businesses are suffering, with owners having to cut down its operational cost and downsizing to remain in business.

“Both employers and employees are left without any other option except having to force employees to take unpaid leave or working on half-day schedules,” he added.

According to Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, Sarawak saw a huge drop of tourist arrivals at 86.94 percent in August this year.

In August this year, only 44,156 tourist arrivals were recorded compared with 338,130 arrivals recorded in the same period last year.

Sarawak Disaster Management Committee has also extended the entry restrictions of non-Sarawakians and foreigners from Sabah, Labuan and Peninsular Malaysia into the state from Oct 4 to Nov 21.