LANGKAWI, Nov 19 — Six associations representing the hospitality and business sectors as well as tour guides in Langkawi, are urging the government to provide immediate attention to the resort island as it faces its greatest challenge yet due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The six associations are the Kedah and Perlis Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH), the Langkawi Business Association (Niagakawi), Malaysian Association of Hotel Owners (MAHO) and the Kedah and Perlis Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA).

Others who have joined the appeal are the Langkawi Chinese Chamber of Commerce, the Langkawi Tour Guides Association and ferry operator Ferry Line Ventures.

Niagakawi deputy president Datuk Alexander Isaac said Langkawi’s tourism industry was dying and would have a chain effect on the residents’ economy which depends heavily on tourist arrivals.

“This group represents over 8,000 workers who are directly or indirectly involved in the tourism sector. We urge the government to end the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) in Langkawi as the island is in a green zone.

“Currently there are no tourists, but if the government ends the CMCO in Langkawi and allows travel between green zones, the decision will definitely return the shine to the island,” he said in a media conference yesterday.

Alexander said they also hoped that the government would consider preparing a blanket moratorium and immediate financial assistance to all businesses in Langkawi so that they can continue operating.

Kedah and Perlis MAH chairman Eugene Dass meanwhile hoped that the government would consider continue providing electricity bill discounts to the hotel sector as they have lost their revenue stream during the Movement Control Order (MCO).

“The tourism sector, including hotels, have been badly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, so we really require the government’s attention, if possible besides electricity bill discounts, perhaps consider continuing wage subsidies till June next year,” he said.

Meanwhile, Langkawi Chinese Chamber of Commerce vice chairman Ku Chin Loon said around 300 to 400 association members are now concerned about the government’s announcement during the 2021 Budget about taxing cigarettes and tobacco products at all duty-free islands beginning Jan 1 next year.

“Tourists come to Langkawi because of attractive packages that are offered, and they also buy duty free items like cigarettes. If the government goes through with this decision, it means that 300 to 400 association members will be affected.

“We have just resumed business, and gotten on our feet after being affected by COVID-19, so we hope that the government reconsiders before the decision is implemented,” he said, adding that cigarettes contributes 30 to 40 per cent to an average association member’s income.


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