Budget 2021: Tourism gets boost amid Covid-19; RM50m to go to 8,000 aviation industry employees who lost jobs

Malaysia’s tourism industry has been among the worst affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. — AFP pic
Malaysia’s tourism industry has been among the worst affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. — AFP pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 6 — An allocation of RM50 million has been announced by the government for the reskilling and relocation of some 8,000 former aviation workers retrenched as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Finance Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz, in his Budget 2021 speech, said this was to soften the effect felt by those within the tourism industry, which has been among the worst affected by the pandemic.

“The government is aware the tourism sector, especially aviation companies, are those most badly affected,” he said.

Tengkru Zafrul also announced 500 new job allocations for those from local and Orang Asli communities to function as tour guides in all national parks to spur the local ecotourism industry.

He also announced RM50 million set aside for repairs and maintenance works at all tourist hotspots nationwide to ensure the availability of the venues and its facilities.

“An allocation of RM20 million will be provided to improve the infrastructure and intensify the promotion of Cultural Villages in Terengganu, Melaka, Sarawak and Negri Sembilan,” he added.

Tengku Zafrul also revealed an allocation of RM10 million to ensure preservation efforts  are undertaken at national heritage buildings like the Sultan Abdul Samad Building and Carcosa Seri Negara to ensure they remain local tourism icons.

In recognising the potential of the health tourism industry for Malaysia, the finance minister also announced an RM35 million allocation to the Malaysian Healthcare Travel Council for it to further empower the local health tourism industry.

“The government will also extend income tax exemption for the export of private healthcare services until the year of assessment 2022,” he said.

Addressing the worries of hawkers in Sabah, a state heavily reliant on tourism for revenue, Tengku Zafrul also announced Geran Khas Prihatin worth RM1,000 for some 20,000 traders and hawkers in the East Malaysian state.

“This grant will also be given to taxi drivers, e-hailing, rental cars and tour drivers in Sabah,” he added.

Additionally, to address the cash flow issues of companies within the tourism sector, the minister announced a six-month exemption from levies owed to the Human Resources Development Fund effective Jan 1, 2020, for all those within sectors affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

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