MATTA: Budget doesn’t build back better

KUALA LUMPUR, 2 November 2021: The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) believes that the National Budget 2022 could have been better to fast track the tourism industry’s recovery.

But the powerful travel agency association noted that several proposals in the budget were positive. MATTA had submitted l detailed proposals and was hoping for a more ‘generous’ budget to support an industry that has suffered lockdowns and the lockout of international tourists since  March 2020.

MATTA president Datuk Tan Kok Liang stated: “We welcome the targeted assistance to protect the tourism industry staff force through the extension of the wage subsidy programme while waiting for the gradual opening of borders for international tourists. Apart from this, the rest of the budget initiatives fall short of the expectations to rehabilitate and stimulate domestic travel.”

Tan added that the Personal Tax relief of MYR1,000 for domestic travel extended to 2022 does not create a significant impact as the tax savings is only MYR210 if a taxpayer is under the 21% tax bracket group. MATTA had earlier requested for individual tax relief of MYR8000. There were no tax incentives for local companies carrying out incentives’ trips or holidays for their staff within the country to boost domestic travel. But Tan said the incentive fund of MYR60 million would encourage domestic travel.

“On the MYR600 million tourism fund under the Penjana Tourism Financing and BPMB Rehabilitation scheme, it should be flexibility in terms and conditions, and nominal interest rate must apply to enable hard-pressed tourism SMEs to access the funds”.

Tan also said that setting up a new Business Travelers Centre in Johor will help improve the business travel segment due to its proximity to Singapore. Singapore has always been the main contributor of foreign tourist arrivals to Malaysia, and it makes good commercial sense to have such a Centre in Johor.

The Malaysia Digital Nomad programme was also welcomed as it would create an ecosystem of digital nomads in the country by using the tourism sector as its catalyst; and therefore, resulting in a potential new market for tourism players.

“We urge the Government to review and reassess the support to speed up the recovery of the tourism industry as we move into the endemic phase in 2022.”

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