KUALA LUMPUR, July 15 — The country’s tourism sector is estimated to suffer losses amounting to RM45 billion this year as a result of the closure of the country’s borders due to the COVID-19 pandemic, said Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri.
She said that of the total, the international tourism segment was projected to suffer losses of more than RM31 billion while the rest was from the domestic segment.
“Based on the ministry’s statistics, for the period of January to March this year, international tourist spending recorded a decrease of 41.5 percent from RM21.4 billion in 2019 to RM12.5 billion, this year,” she said in her reply during an oral question-and-answer session in the Dewan Rakyat today.
She was replying to questions related to the same matter submitted by 11 MPs including Yusuf Abd Wahab (GPS-Tanjong Manis), Datuk Ahmad Nazlan Idris (BN-Jerantut), Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim (GPS-Batang Lupar), Sivakumar Varatharaju Naidu (PH -Batu Gajah) and Datuk Azizah Mohd Dun (Bersatu-Beaufort).
“However, the ministry expects that the tourism sector will be in the recovery phase from the second quarter of this year, driven by domestic tourism after the state borders are opened,” she said.
She also said that once the state borders were opened, hotels had begun to record high occupancy rates of up to 75 percent, proving that the domestic tourism segment was back in full swing.
“Until the COVID-19 pandemic eradicated, Malaysians are encouraged to go for ‘Cuti-Cuti Malaysia’ to further boost the country’s tourism sector,” she said.
The tourism sector is the third biggest contributor to Malaysia’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth after manufacturing and commodities, at RM86.14 billion.
Meanwhile, Nancy said that the ministry has always monitored tourist destinations to ensure operators comply with the standard operating procedure (SOP) as well as to promote the location as a safe area to visit.
“This is one of the strategies stipulated in the Tourism Recovery Plan to revive the domestic tourism segment and help revitalize the industry,” she said in her reply to a supplementary question from Datuk Mahfuz Omar (PH-Pokok Sena).
Apart from that, Nancy said, the ministry also conducted a census to gauge the public readiness and feedback in terms of traveling for holiday.