Dedicated bank for Malaysia’s ailing tourism sector mooted

Malaysia Tourism Council (MTC) is lobbying for the setting up of a dedicated tourism bank in Malaysia to encourage local and foreign investments in the tourism industry as well as to provide financial assistance to tourism players to help them sustain operations and compete regionally and internationally.

MTC president, Uzaidi Udanis, said the idea was first mooted at the Malaysia Tourism Gold Summit 2020 held virtually in November 2020. He said such a bank was needed to address the current weaknesses in the banking system where it was difficult to get loans for moveable assets and recreational equipment as well as loans for the purchase of tour vehicles.

A dedicated bank will allow tourism businesses impacted by the pandemic to secure loans; Batu Caves during Malaysia’s movement control order in January 2021 pictured 

Given also how the pandemic has sped up the digitalisation of tourism products and services, he said that a tourism bank could facilitate with payment gateway systems for the industry.

The council is now in the midst of preparing a comprehensive proposal to be submitted to the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture Malaysia on the setting up of the tourism bank, which among others, will provide loans to industry players.

K Thangavelu, managing director at Grandlotus Travel Agencies, agreed that a dedicated bank for tourism players was needed as such a bank would understand the needs of sector players, and the strengths and weaknesses of the industry. Noting how the tourism industry was among the top GDP contributors to the country pre-pandemic, he said that “it is worth investing in and developing this high-growth sector”.

Raaj Navaratnaa, general manager, New Asia Holiday Tours & Travel, opined that the tourism bank should also provide loans to encourage innovation and digitalisation in the tourism industry. He said: “The bank should assist players to compete on a level-playing field with international players once the borders reopen. It should tailor-make its products and offerings to meet the future needs of industry players.”

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