JOHOR BARU, March 1 ― Some hotel operators in the state are optimistic that the industry will receive a knee-jerk reaction in terms of bookings especially during the ongoing Johor state election.

Grand Paragon Hotel Johor Bahru general manager Yeo Siu Ling said the hotel had received overwhelming bookings this month due to the state election which kicked off with the nomination of candidates last Saturday.

The Election Commission (EC) has slated March 8 for early voting while polling day is scheduled on March 12. 

“We already received confirmed bookings at about 60 per cent during the ongoing state election compared to about 40 per cent last year. Yes, we do get a knee-jerk reaction.   

“We are expecting high occupancy rates during the peak of the state election as we had received many inquiries from all segments ― government, corporate and politicians,” she told Bernama in an interview recently. 

She is expecting the occupancy rate at the hotel to be between 70 and 85 per cent and to be fully booked towards polling day on March 12.

Located at Taman Century here, the hotel was also selected as one of the quarantine hotels in Johor Baru during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2021. 

Meanwhile, marketing and communications manager at Holiday Inn Express & Suites Johor Bahru, Keyin Tay said although the government had lifted the interstate travel ban, the percentage of people travelling to Johor was still low as the Singapore-Johor border remained closed. 

“It is not an easy period for us at this moment. But we hoped that we are able to face this challenge together and pray that once travel to and from Singapore and Indonesia is allowed, we will be back in business and make Johor vibrant again with our hospitality business,” she said. 

Tay said the hotel does not see any sudden surge of bookings in conjunction with the state election, but is hopeful for increased bookings in the coming weeks.

“We are hopeful room bookings will increase in the coming weeks when people go back to their hometown for the state election but still, we remained cautious due to the recent rise in Covid-19 cases,” she said. 

Meanwhile, chairman for Malaysian Association of Hotels Johor Chapter Ivan Teo said hotels’ performance (average occupancy rate) before the pandemic stood at 65 per cent compared to 15 per cent to 20 per cent during the pandemic.

“Presently with the interstate travel ban lifted, hotels’ performance can be about 45 per cent. However, it varies between seafront hotels (resorts) and city hotels. City hotels are badly affected till today. 

“I presume the booking data will not vary much as most hotels depend strongly on Singaporeans and not the state election -- there might be a surge (during the state election) but not for a long period,” he said when contacted.

However, the association is optimistic on the performance of hotels in the state this year as more countries are opening up their borders. It is still hopeful on the opening of the Singapore-Johor land border as it is the easiest and nearest compared to air travel. ― Bernama