15 April 2022
Although the reopening of borders and relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions have been touted to play a significant role in boosting the tourism and hospitality industry, hoteliers say business is still slow at their end.
Malaysian Association of Hotels CEO Yap Lip Seng said hotels have yet to record significant increases in occupancy since the transition to the endemic phase on April 1, although there have been more Singaporean customers and some Indonesians.
“Before April 1, the average occupancy hovered around 30% to 40%, fluctuating between peak weekends and holidays as well as normal weekdays, with popular domestic destinations doing better than others.
“We are hoping for the average occupancy to range between 50% and 60% by the third quarter of the year,” he told FMT.
Yap said the industry was still facing manpower constraints, while many hotel owners still needed to recover from the losses incurred over the past two years because of the pandemic and lockdowns.
On a brighter note, he said most hotels that were closed during the pandemic had reopened, while some were still being refurbished, pointing to an expectation of business to bustle again.
“Hotels that had held back their opening in Kuala Lumpur, Langkawi and other popular destinations such as Penang and Sabah are currently on schedule to enter or re-enter the market in the coming months.
“We are also seeing increased interest in hotel investments,” he added.
Unfortunately, the same could not be said for budget hotels.
Emmy Suraya Hussein, president of the Malaysian Budget Hotel Association, said some of them had closed down either temporarily or permanently, and even sold off their businesses.
“Even though hotels can open up and start operations, our setback is manpower.
“Many who left us due to unpaid leave do not wish to come back to their old positions, and some are already comfortable with what they are doing now,” she told FMT.
Because of the lack of manpower, Emmy said, budget hotels cannot operate fully yet.
“Many workers in the industry are afraid to work in the tourism line because if another lockdown happens, they are the first to go,” she said.
She expected to only see a slight increase in bookings from tourists from June onwards.
“We foresee that business will pick up as a whole only by next year,” she said.
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