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Tourism and hospitality want special grants for marketing

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PETALING JAYA: Incentives for cultural performances, higher matching grants for marketing and funding tourism recovery through soft loans are among the suggestions made by local tourism and hospitality stakeholders to include in the next 2023 budget.

The chairman of the Malaysian Tourist Inbound Association, Uzaidi Udanis, said he had committed to the Ministry of Finance to submit its proposals last month.

“Now that our country has reopened its international borders, we need to be able to compete with other countries, including neighboring countries like Indonesia and Thailand.

“Since our industry is highly dependent on international marketing, perhaps the Ministry of Finance can give us a special grant to carry out more domestic and international marketing activities,” he said.

The tabling of the 2023 budget is scheduled for October 7.

Uzaidi pointed out that the previous budget had earmarked allocations for similar matching grants, but the amount was not enough.

“We have over 6,000 operators under us across the country and we need to do more to promote travel to Europe and even Saudi Arabia. We hope the government can increase the allowance,” he said.

Another suggestion was to provide incentives to industry players willing to create more unique content such as cultural performances in an effort to attract tourists.

“We need incentives for industry players and organizers to showcase our cultural performances. The response has been good if we look at the recent Merdeka Day and Malaysia Day celebrations.

“International travelers are happy to see our cultural performances and we want them to come back to Malaysia,” he said.

Malaysian Hotel Association (MAH) Chairwoman Christina Toh said that given the massive upgrading and reinvestment required for the industry, tax incentives for investment and reinvestment for tourism and the hotels should be extended to all categories until 2025.

The MAH is also seeking funding for the revival of tourism through interest-free or low-interest soft loans for reinvestment, modernization, repair and maintenance of hotel properties as well as for operations.

The chairman of the Malaysian Budget and Business Hotel Association, Dr Sri Ganesh Michiel, wants the government to enact specific laws to regulate online travel agents as well as a set of guidelines for short-term residential accommodation, which is long overdue.

He also proposed to abolish the tourist tax and replace it with a tax system that is more efficient and transparent for all parties.

“The tourist tax discourages tourists from staying in hotels and they will choose to book unlicensed or illegal accommodation,” he said.