By ILONA ANDREW
KOTA KINABALU: The Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC) will be intensifying its promotion towards domestic tourism in view of the novel coronavirus outbreak originated from China, now officially named as COVID-19, which causes a sharp drop in the tourism industry of Malaysia.
Its secretary general Datuk Dr Noor Zari Hamat said, domestic tourism has always been important for Malaysia as 86 percent of the hotel rooms in Malaysia, according to the latest statistics of a hotel survey, are filled up by domestic tourists.
“It has always been our prerogative to push for domestic tourisms because we have learned way back in 1997 that we cannot discount domestic tourists,” he said, adding that there are into two groups of domestic tourism, namely domestic leisure and domestic MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions, and Exhibitions).
“Now because of the coronavirus, we are stepping up (our promotion towards domestic tourism) because the inventory for hotel rooms and airlines is perishable,” he told a press conference during the Tourism Recovery Action Committee (TRAC) town hall roadshow at Hilton hotel here, on Wednesday.
“If you cannot sell it today, you cannot keep it for tomorrow. So let’s pledge (to intensify domestic tourism) together,” he was quoted as saying.
According to Noor Zari, among the initiatives that can be done to attract domestic tourists is by adding free inventory, such as providing special offers.
For instance, those who stay in a hotel for two to three days should get a complimentary stay for one night.
“Another initiative that the industry is asking for is for the government sector to continue conducting their programmes, like conferences, in hotels,” he disclosed.
The event, Noor Zari explained, was part of the town hall that is being conducted in several cities around Malaysia to acknowledge the industry players on matters done or discussed back in the headquarters.
“We had several meetings. One of them was a joint meeting between MOTAC and the Ministry of Health to discuss about the latest updates of the virus.
“We also had a discussion, which was chaired by Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Datuk Mohamaddin Ketapi, with all the relevant ministries concerned to get feedback on the current happening,” he stated.
At the end of the event, during a group photo session, approximately 300 tourism players from the state have declared their pledge to morally support China following the COVID-19 outbreak.
They exclaimed: “China, we are with you. Jia you!”
“Jia you” is a Mandarin expression which translates to “don’t give up”.
The town hall session also saw tourism players exchanging questions and recommendations on the impacts of COVID-19.
Also present were Tourism Malaysia Chairman Datuk Ahmad Shah Hussein Tambakau, Tourism Malaysia Director-General Datuk Musa Yusof, State Health Department’s Principal Assistant Director (Health Surveillance Unit) Dr Sahrol Nizam Bin Abu Bakar, and Sabah Tourism Board General Manager Noredah Othman.