MATTA: Malaysia jab project lags behind

KUALA LUMPUR 25 May 2021: The Malaysian Association of Tour & Travel Agents (MATTA) is urging the government to prioritise and fast-track vaccination for tourism workers.

“Vaccination of the frontline workers (tour operators, drivers, boatmen, tourist guides, hotel staff and other related staff) is critical on this journey towards the reopening of our economy and our tourism industry,” said MATTA president Datuk Tan Kok Liang.

“The government has been talking about domestic tourism for the last 15 months to bolster the tourism sector and economy, yet tourism workers have not been given priority.

“This is disappointing as countries like Thailand, the Philippines, and Indonesia have all prioritised tourism workers for vaccination. Even a small country like Cambodia has managed to administer the first dose of the vaccine to 2 million of its citizen’s to date. Malaysia, unfortunately, is lagging far behind,” added Tan, who is also the president of the Federation of ASEAN Travel Association (FATA).

He pointed out that Saudi Arabia’s recent ruling that allows only people who have been vaccinated against Covid-19 to attend the haj this year provide even more reason for tourism players to be vaccinated in preparation for the haj season that will take place in mid-July.

An expedited vaccination for tourism players would facilitate the recovery of the local tourism industry, especially amongst Bumiputera agents. This move would provide an opportunity for registered Bumiputera agents to restart their business which has seen up to a drop of up to 97% of their income due to the continuous lockdown, the MATTA president said.

MATTA had earlier sent an appeal to YB Tuan Khairy Jamaluddin, Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation cum Minister of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme, seeking urgent attention and decision to give priority for tourism frontline staff and workers in tour and travel agencies.