In yet another blow to Malaysia’s tourism industry which has buckled under the pressure of the Covid-19 pandemic, the minister for tourism, arts and culture has ordered the immediate cancellation of the Visit Malaysia 2020 (VM2020) campaign.
Minister Nancy Shukri also announced on Wednesday that all over-the-counter and online services related to the ministry’s tourism licensing division would be frozen until the end of the Restricted Movement Order.
The Malaysian Association of Tour & Travel Agents president, KL Tan, told TTG Asia: “It is a good move to call (VM2020) off as the pandemic has severely impacted the tourism industry in Malaysia and around the world. The minister’s decision is a pragmatic one.”
Tan added that the tourism ministry should now refocus its resources on “recovery measures and establishing healthier tourism fundamentals”.
Yap Sook Ling, managing director, Asian Overland Services Tours & Travel, believes that the funds set aside for VM2020 will be put to better use when travel confidence returns.
As Malaysia has one of the highest number of infections in South-east Asia, Yap suggested that communications be focused on rebuilding travellers’ confidence in the destination.
“We have to highlight the efforts we have taken to bring infection rates down and procedures in place by hotels and various attractions to prevent the spread of the virus,” she said.
Nigel Wong, director, Urban Rhythms Tours, Adventures & Travel, also regards the cancellation of VM2020 as a necessary move, adding that travel may only resume in 2H2020.
“When the situation normalises, the government and the travel trade should focus on growing the domestic travel market,” he opined.