PETALING JAYA,Jan 25: While the Covid-19 pandemic has severely impacted the tourism sector, over 2,000 budget hotel operators have yet to admit defeat.

Malaysian Budget Hotel Association (Mybha) president Emmy Suraya Hussein has urged the government to consider turning 2,300 budget hotels into low-risk quarantine and treatment centres, set at affordable rates to prevent patients from burning a hole in their pockets.

She said the move would enable more effective surveillance of Covid-19 patients, while also allowing budget hotel operators to earn a living during such challenging times.

“It will indirectly help the hotel industry that has been affected due to the spread of Covid-19, followed by a drop in customers,” she told FMT.

Emmy noted that certain budget hotels were already being used as quarantine centres for travellers coming in from overseas, adding that her association’s members were willing to help expand the service.

“Our fees will not be expensive, we will offer reasonable prices. If it includes food and beverage, we could set it at RM100 or RM110 per day.”

She also said the budget hotels would only allow one guest per room, in compliance with the current standard operating procedures.

Since July 24, the government has made it mandatory for all foreigners and Malaysians returning from abroad to undergo quarantine at public training institutes or hotels.

Earlier this year, health minister Dr Adham Baba had announced that all Covid-19 category 1 and 2 patients would undergo treatment and quarantine at home, while being monitored by health workers.

However, the government’s decision on home-based quarantine for positive cases has raised concerns for the safety of other family members living in the same household.

Mustafa Shah Abdul Hamid, a member of Umno Youth’s executive committee, had urged government-linked companies that owned hotels to offer their spaces as quarantine centres, questioning if patients at home would receive enough attention from health workers.

Mybha has informed the tourism ministry on its willingness to contribute towards the battle against the pandemic, but no final decisions have been made yet, said Emmy.

She said the industry’s revenue has dropped by 80% as a result of the downturn in the domestic tourism industry and the significant decrease in foreign visitors.

“When the second movement control order (MCO 2.0) was implemented last month, our income was further affected as many bookings for rooms and seminar halls had to be cancelled,” she said.

“We hope the government will continue to help this industry by providing more aid for us to survive, including wage subsidies and bigger discounts on utilities such as electricity.”


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