PETALING JAYA: Incentives for cultural performances, higher matching grants for marketing, and financing tourism rehabilitation via soft loans are among the proposals from local tourism and hospitality stakeholders to be included in the upcoming 2023 budget.
Uzaidi Udanis, president of the Malaysian Inbound Tourist Association, said she contacted the Ministry of Finance to submit her proposals last month.
“Now that our country has reopened its international borders, we need to be able to compete with the rest of the world, including neighboring countries like Indonesia and Thailand.
“Since our industry relies heavily on international marketing, perhaps the Treasury Department can give us a special marketing grant to do more domestic and international marketing activities,” he said.
The 2023 budget is scheduled for October 7th.
Uzaidi pointed out that the previous budget had allocated allocations for similar grants, but the amount was insufficient.
“We have over 6,000 tour operators under us across the country and we need to work harder to encourage travel to Europe and even to Saudi Arabia. We hope the government can increase the allocation,” he said.
Another suggestion was to incentivize industry players willing to create more unique content, such as cultural shows, to attract tourists.
“We need some incentives for industry players and organizers to make our cultural shows stand out. The response has been good if we look at the recent Merdeka Day and Malaysia Day celebrations.
“International travelers are happy to see our cultural shows and we want them to return to Malaysia,” he said.
Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) President Christina Toh said with massive modernization and reinvestment demands for the industry, the investment and reinvestment tax incentives for tourism and hotels should be extended to all categories by 2025.
MAH also seeks tourism redevelopment funding through no-interest or soft-interest loans for hotel property reinvestment, upgrades, repairs and maintenance, and operations.
The President of the Malaysian Budget and Business Hotel Association, Dr. Sri Ganesh Michiel, wants the government to enact specific legislation to regulate online travel agencies and a set of short-term residential accommodation policies, which is long overdue.
He also proposed abolishing the tourism tax and replacing it with a more efficient and transparent tax system for all parties.
“The tourism tax discourages tourists from staying in hotels and they will choose to book unlicensed or illegal accommodation,” he said.