KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) has urged the government to put in place mechanism to prevent the unnecessary hardships to the people and the remaining tourists still holidaying in Malaysia.

Although MATTA welcomes the measures taken Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to restrict the movement of the people effective today (Wednesday) until March 31 to contain the Covid-19 outbreak, but it should prepare the frequently asked questions to clear the people confusion.

Its president, Datuk Tan Kok Liang said yesterday: “Although it was a bold and decisive move by the government, industry players are concerned that some hotels are closing down as their operations are not listed under essential services.

“But if these hotels cease operations until month end and guests are asked to check out by noon today, how are they going to fend for themselves? Guest cannot be expected to proceed to the airport and catch the next flight home as easily as commuters taking a train home after work.”

“If hotels are not classified as essential service under existing laws, then exceptions should be made. It would be problematic to kick out foreign tourists that we have welcomed with open arms earlier.

“Also, some are long staying guests at hotels, and they include rich retirees and expatriates working here. It is sufficient to bar entry of tourists without having to repatriate those already in the country.

“We also have to bear in mind that hotels are needed by transient workers such as oil and gas, shipping and airline crews.”

He said the restriction order should provide sufficient notice and be clearly spelt out and not perceived as 24-hour curfew, which will result in panic buying and hoarding.

To clear the confusion, he called on the government to make another announcement to inform that hotels should not be closed, and no guests be ejected, as food, clothing and shelter are basic needs.

“Foreign tourists already in Malaysia should be allowed to complete their tours. At the point of the press release, in-house tour groups are getting panicky due to lack of clarification.

“Also, as the aviation industry is considered as essential services, business premises providing air ticketing services should be allowed to operate with reduced manpower”, Tan said.

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