Hotels association refutes minister on high occupancy rate, says nationwide average only 21pc

MAH chief executive Yap said the hotel industry is working closely together with the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry and Tourism Malaysia to boost awareness on the RM1,000 personal income tax relief for Malaysians for domestic tourism expenses. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
MAH chief executive Yap said the hotel industry is working closely together with the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry and Tourism Malaysia to boost awareness on the RM1,000 personal income tax relief for Malaysians for domestic tourism expenses. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

KUALA LUMPUR, July 16 — Hotel occupancy rates across the country have yet to rebound to 100 per cent or even 75 per cent as claimed by Minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri in Parliament recently, the Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) said today.

Its chief executive Yap Lip Seng clarified that the high figures quoted by the tourism, arts and culture minister was only for select hotels at some destinations.

He said the national average under the recovery movement control order (RMCO) is only at 21 per cent based on data compiled from MAH’s 13 chapters around the country.

“Main cities and states such as Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Johor, Sabah, as well as Kedah and Perlis are still low, with average occupancy between 12 per cent and 20 per cent at best,” he said in a statement.

He said the minister’s reported remark was “inaccurate” and had caused much anxiety among those in the hotel industry which had been badly hit by the Covid-19 pandemic and the government order restricting travel since March 18, although it has since been loosened under the RMCO.

Yap said high occupancy as remarked by the minister was observed at select destinations like Melaka, Penang, Port Dickson, Kelantan, Pulau Redang and Pulau Perhentian over the weekend just before schools reopened.

“Higher occupancy recorded at these destinations is likely temporary and seasonal, with locals taking advantage of the weekend before school reopens.

Yap said the hotel industry is working closely together with the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry and Tourism Malaysia to boost awareness on the RM1,000 personal income tax relief for Malaysians for domestic tourism expenses.

He urged Malaysians to take advantage of the current service tax exemption at hotels on top of attractive deals and promotions.

Under the National Economic Recovery Plan (Penjana), Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin had previously announced that the tourism sector will stand to benefit from tax incentives, such as tourism tax exemption from July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021, and extension of service tax exemption for hotels until June 30, 2021.

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