KUCHING: It seems that the world is struck by one thing after another — like a domino effect — and price hike is the latest issue.
Price hikes affecting goods and also the tourism and travel industry.
“Price hike is a global issue. You and I are facing the same issue,” said Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) committee member and organising chairperson, Lina Tsen.
“The airlines, hotels, restaurants and other service industries are all affected, but tourism is bouncing back, which is a good thing for us to survive in the industry.”
One of MATTA’s yearly activities is the ‘MATTA Fair’, held to boost sales and create awareness of tourism products and services both domestically and internationally.
Also approached for answers to some related questions was YS Chan, who is a writer, trainer and consultant.
How has the travel industry been affected by the price hike?
It has been pretty much the same as other industries. A tour operator is similar to a chef. He puts together all the required and desired services into a tour package, and prices will rise correspondingly with procurement. Likewise, prices of cooked food served in a dish will increase as much as the raw materials and overheads such as rentals, utilities, staff salaries, etc. Nothing comes free or cheap. The key is to charge reasonably for all goods and services.
Are there any assistance given to travel agents here?
There are incentives and other types of assistance given to them to survive through the COVID-19 pandemic. The incentives, many of which have been extended till the end of this year are:
• Licence fee exemption (until June 30, 2022)
• 40 per cent compound discount (until June 30, 2022)
• Assistance payment of RM3,000 (application until July 31, 2021)
• Reduce of premises size’s term (until June 30, 2022)
• Permission to carry other business (until June 30, 2022)
• Extension of the rental period for business premises by co-share office space (until June 30, 2022)
• Extension of compound (until June 30, 2022)
• Issuance of company licence without inspection of premises within period PPN
Any way to enable travel players to bounce back should there be an economic crisis?
We are not getting back the pre-pandemic world. Many would have bounced back if the world has not changed so much, but now most tour operators are more dead than alive, let alone bounce back.
For those less stubborn and had closed down early to conserve cash, they may have some reserves left to start all over again but it will take many years for the travel industry to recover, if at all. The years ahead will be dicey as borders can suddenly close if a new outbreak is uncontrollable.
Travel industry boomed with the introduction of budget Airlines allowing many people to fly, and with e-hailing apps and homestay booking platforms, smartphone users could travel around the region like it was their own backyard without the need to go through tour operators.
But in the absence of budget flights and with many flights delayed or even cancelled, leisure travel is no longer fun as it used tobe. Many tourism industry personnel, including those in the travel sector, who have moved to other industries are not planning to return.
In a nutshell, it’s quite a sombre situation we are all facing right now.
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