Hotel occupancy rates in Langkawi below 10 per cent since Jan

KUALA LUMPUR: Hotel occupancy rates in Langkawi have been below 10 per cent since January, after the government implemented phase two of the Movement Control Order (MCO).

The Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) Kedah & Perlis Chapter chairman Eugene Dass told the New Straits Times that there was no sign of improvement though Kedah had been placed under the more relaxed Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) since Feb 19.

"Hotel occupancy rates picked up a bit during year-end last year, then declined to below 10 per cent again in January, while some hotels have no bookings at all… it's really bad.

"The government will need to lift the interstate ban to help the hotel industry in Langkawi. Only allowing inter-district travel doesn't help much," he said when contacted today.

A total 37 hotels in Langkawi are registered under MAH.

Eugene said allowing interstate travel would help to curb the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the tourism industry, but not solve the problem faced by industry players entirely till international borders reopen.

"A big portion of Langkawi's tourism relies on international travellers, but lifting the interstate ban will at least help to curb the impact. Many jobs are at stake now in the industry," he said.

He shared that during its general meeting today, hoteliers discussed survival strategies as well as creating travel bubbles to Langkawi to restart domestic tourism safely.

"Based on current SOPs (standard operating procedures), a domestic traveller by flight would have been screened and tracked according to stringent control mechanisms set by the airport management as well as the airlines.

"With confirmed accommodation bookings at licensed hotels, the traveller is then subjected to various SOPs at the hotel including physical distancing and other limitations.

"Having studied the safe travel flow, MAH is confident that such travel bubbles by flight can be established to allow leisure travel between green zones without the concern of deviations from planned travel routes. Accommodation and flight confirmation will serve as documented proof.

"We hope the government can consider allowing domestic green travel bubbles by flight and possibly with Langkawi as a pilot test while awaiting full reopening of interstate travel," he said.

He said green travel bubble by flight would also benefit airlines, retailers particularly duty free outlets, restaurants and even local car rentals on the island.

"We need to reopen. The industry cannot be perpetually waiting and sustaining losses continuously. The green travel bubble solution by flight is safe, controlled and easily monitored," Eugene added.

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