KUALA LUMPUR, 22 May 2020: The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) is calling on the government to implement health accreditation to guarantee health and safety standards to boost confidence in the country’s tourism facilities.
MATTA president Datuk Tan Kok Liang told the Online Forum, jointly organised by MATTA and Star Media Group, that “tourism needs to deal with the core issue of health and safety confidence as the new priority.”
He warned that no amount of digitalisation, promotions, incentives or freebies could create demand when there was a shortage of confidence about the fundamentals of travel safety.
“Today, we see malls and food and beverage outlets running under low capacity due to the ‘Stay At Home’ tagline and the fear of being infected with Covid-19. The authorities should replace the ‘Stay At Home’ tagline with a new one such as ‘Stay Safe’ to portray a more positive message. The future of travel and market recovery in the next 12 months will be challenging and unpredictable due to the global recession along with travel restrictions.
“Bolstering travel confidence is the key to recovery in tourism. The industry has grown very sensitive towards health and safety protocols due to the pandemic and attaining people’s trust will be a challenging task. Nonetheless, the desire to travel will not go away, and many are hoping that they will be able to travel again within several months after restrictions are lifted. Issues such as privacy and cleanliness will become paramount as part of the new norm, keeping in mind the push-pull of people wanting to see the world while also wanting to stay safe.
“The Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture and the Ministry of Health should consider initiating a health accreditation programme for the tourism value chain which includes aviation, hotels, tourism attractions, retail outlets, transportation operations, cruises and food and beverage outlets amongst others.
“Otherwise, the Malaysian tourism industry will be trailing behind neighbouring countries. For example, Visit Britain had recently announced plans for a “quality mark” to be rolled out across the country. The mark will denote to potentially nervous customers that the operators are conforming to government regulations. The badge will act as a safeguard towards staff and visitors, and earning it will require rigorous online training and assessment sessions.
“Additionally, countries like Turkey, Singapore, and Thailand are also developing and implementing a health and safety certification as a protective step for the tourists, he concluded.