INDUSTRY players are disagreeable with Kuala Lumpur City Hall’s decision to put a blanket ban on the issuing of new hotel licences, saying they should instead focus on improving regulation.
According to official figures, there are 939 hotels currently in the city, including more than 400 budget accommodations.
Ally Bhoonee, executive director of World Avenues, said: “City Hall should look at rebranding the city to attract more high-end tourists. As Kuala Lumpur is the gateway into Malaysia, City Hall should work with the Ministry of Tourism and Culture to ensure there are enough rooms in the city to meet the ministry’s forecasted arrival targets in 2020 and beyond, taking into account that it takes three years minimum to build a hotel.”
He believes each development should be assessed on a case to case basis, rather than a blanket ban, so as to not discourage high-end international hotel brands from entering Malaysia, and in the process, further enhancing the city’s image.
He added: “The problem now is that the industry is not regulated properly. There are too many small establishments – shoplots in the Bukit Bintang area of five to 10 rooms – that are calling themselves hotels. This is eating into the business of the three-star hotels.”
Adam Kamal, Malaysian Inbound Tourism Association deputy president 2, opined that stricter regulation is needed on the classification of hotels, especially budget properties.
Agreeing with Bhoonee, he said: “For this, City Hall has to work closely with the Ministry of Tourism and Culture Malaysia. There are currently too many small establishments calling themselves hotels that don’t meet international standards. If we want to attract more foreign tourists, we need to improve on the standards.”
According to a recent report in The Star, the freeze in hotel licences in Kuala Lumpur applies to all hotel types. However, hotels that have already received planning permission from City Hall are allowed to continue with construction.