KUALA LUMPUR (Sept 21): The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) has called on Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz to announce direct and accessible financial support for the tourism industry in Budget 2022.

President Datuk Tan Kok Liang has pleaded with the government to be specific in its allocation to not only preserve the tourism business and its workers but also to prepare and empower the industry for a major comeback.

He noted that the Malaysian tourism industry is on the brink of a total collapse due to regulatory constraints imposed by the government, while other countries are recovering at a faster rate in their battle against Covid-19.

“As borders have remained closed for the last 18 months and with just a small travel bubble for Langkawi, we plead with the Ministry of Finance (MoF) to provide targeted assistance for tourism businesses and workers directly affected,” he said in a statement.

Tan said the MoF needs to provide an extension of the wage subsidy and automatic bank loan moratorium plus an interest waiver at least until year end for borrowers directly impacted by the pandemic.

He noted that tourism companies took business loans in 2020 in anticipation that the government would overcome the pandemic. However, until today, tourism activities remain restricted with industry players having to pay bank instalments and interest with no revenue coming in.

“The MoF needs to provide practical financial assistance beyond tax incentives or tax rebates or deferment of tax instalments, which we are unable to benefit from because tourism companies already accumulated tax losses in 2020 and 2021. By now, we have more than enough tax losses to offset any so called forecast profits,” he said.

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