KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) is delighted with the RM20 billion Economic Stimulus Package announced by Interim Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad on Thursday, which will help mitigate the impact to the tourism industry that has been severely affected by Covid-19.

MATTA president Datuk Tan Kok Liang said in a statement: “The comprehensive package covers many sectors, including requests made by MATTA and key stakeholders for the tourism industry, such as discount for electricity bills; lowering the minimum contribution to the Employees Provident Fund; exemption of the Human Resource Development Fund levy; banks to provide financial relief on payment moratorium comprising restructuring and rescheduling loans across the board.”

Also included are special loan for small medium enterprises for working capital; property owners to lower rental rates; matching grant for tourism personnel training; subsidy to enhance digitals skills and marketing; personal income tax relief of up to RM1,000 on expenditure related to domestic tourism although MATTA had asked for RM2,000, he added.

“The personal income tax relief up to RM1,000 for domestic travel is fantastic to rejuvenate the local tourism industry. MATTA proposed the eligibility be limited to tour packages purchased from companies licensed by the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture and these domestic tours can be for resident taxpayer, spouse or children.

“We are gratified with the compassion shown to tourism frontliners severely impacted by the Covid-19 outbreak as taxi drivers, tourist bus drivers, tourist guides and registered trishaw drivers will be given a one-off payment of RM600.

The 2020 Economic Stimulus Package certainly lives up to its theme of “Bolstering Confidence, Stimulating Growth and Protecting Jobs,” Tan said.

Earlier, MATTA had identified the same three-prong approach which is now incorporated in the package. They are to mitigate the cash flow crunch, assist those severely impacted and to stimulate demand for travel and tourism. The MATTA Fair Cuti-Cuti Malaysia to be held on April 4-5, 2020 was swiftly organised to promote domestic travel.

“We are happy on the deferment of monthly income tax instalment payments for businesses in the tourism sector, exemption of 6 per cent service tax for hotels, digital vouchers for domestic tourism of up to RM100 per person for domestic flights, rails and hotel accommodations for all Malaysians.

“Although MATTA had requested several other measures, such as granting free visas to Indian tourists and double tax deduction  for local companies for sending staff to meetings, incentive tours, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) events, to be included in the economic stimulus package, the priority now is for all to start working on recovery measures. With concerted efforts, it will be much swifter”, Tan concluded.-HS

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