Covid-19: Cabinet wants measures taken to assist tourism industry

Tourists wearing masks cross a street outside a shopping mall in Kuala Lumpur January 29, 2020. — Reuters pic
Tourists wearing masks cross a street outside a shopping mall in Kuala Lumpur January 29, 2020. — Reuters pic

PUTRAJAYA, March 11 — The Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry has been directed to prepare a Cabinet paper on measures that can be taken to help tourism industry players who have been affected by the Covid-19 outbreak.

Its minister, Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri, said the directive was decided at the first Cabinet meeting today following the rise in Covid-19 cases worldwide, including Malaysia.

To that end, she said the ministry would hold a meeting with all the industry players in the near future to get feedback on measures that could be taken by the government to help them cope with the situation.

“A specific explanation of the impact of Covid-19 on the tourism sector was presented to the Cabinet this morning, which saw the ministry being asked to prepare a Cabinet paper on the matter.

“For that purpose, we will meet with all the industry players to gather feedback and suggestions before bringing the matter to the Cabinet’s attention,” she told reporters after chairing the Ministry’s first post-Cabinet meeting here today.

Also present was her deputy, Datuk Jeffrey Kitingan and the Ministry’s secretary-general Datuk Noor Zari Hamat.

According to Nancy, the new directive may require some of the mechanisms announced in the 2020 Economic Stimulus Package to address the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak, to be reviewed again.

These include spending requirements to upgrade facilities at certain tourist spots in the country.

Nancy said the ministry was not only looking at the one-off financial assistance aspect provided to the affected industry players through the package but more importantly the move to upgrade tourism facilities to stimulate the presence of domestic tourists.

In facing a shortage of tourists due to the virus, she said the ministry would create tourism ambassadors among the younger generation and provide specific training to help them promote domestic tourism.

On whether Malaysia would be able to achieve the target of 30 million tourist arrivals in conjunction with Visit Malaysia 2020 (VM2020), Nancy said that based on the current trend the target was difficult to achieve in the wake of Covid-19. — Bernama

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