GEORGE TOWN, May 11 — The tourism industry in Malaysia is on the verge of collapse due to the RM100 billion in losses it suffered last year and this recent nationwide movement control order (MCO) 3.0 will further damage the industry, according to Balik Pulau MP Muhammad Bakhtiar Wan Chik.

The former tourism, arts and culture deputy minister said business activity in the industry was just picking up with the upcoming festive season and during Ramadan with buka puasa or breaking of fast offers.

“The nationwide MCO meant that rooms booked for the Aidilfitri season will be cancelled, adding more burden on an industry that is already facing collapse since the closure of the country’s borders,” he said in a statement today.

He said Malaysia recorded 26 million tourists in 2019, which dropped to four million in 2020, an 80 per cent drop and an RM100 billion loss for the industry last year.

“The tourism industry has been suffering and struggling to survive since the first MCO might just close down entirely if the government does not take steps to help the industry,” he said.

He said recovery measures, other than Strategic Programme to Empower the People and Economy (Pemerkasa) should be introduced to help the tourism industry survive.

“The government should consider allowing guests in hotels to dine-in through strict SOPs,” he said.

He reminded the government that there are more than 7,000 workers under the hospitality industry while 12,000 workers have already been retrenched or ordered to take unpaid leave due to the hotels’ inability to pay them.

“The Socso subsidy for the workers’ salaries must be continued for the companies that are affected,” he said.

He suggested that Tourism Malaysia promote the country as a destination to other neighbouring countries now in preparation for when borders reopen in the future.

“This is so that visitors will think of choosing Malaysia as a tourist destination when borders are reopened in future,” he said.

He said the government needs to come up with a strategy to help the tourism industry to prevent more hotels, tour agencies and tourist attractions from closing down during this time which could lead to more loss of jobs within the industry.

*Note: A previous edition of the story contained an error which has since been corrected.