ABACUS to Cushion Impact of SARS on Malaysian Travel Agents


Distribution Systems yesterday unveiled a financial aid programme to assist travel agents recovering from the impact of SARS on their businesses.

The new financial aid programme consists of an equipment rental waiver that applies to all ABACUS subscribers throughout Malaysia valued at RM$1.6 million and a deferred payment plan for equipment rented from June through September 2003. The deferred payment scheme is applicable to ABACUS exclusive agents, and they need only pay in September.

ABACUS Malaysia estimates that approximately 850 travel agents qualify for this financial aid programme.

Ramlan Ismail, General Manager of ABACUS Malaysia said that travel agents need not apply for the programme. “We are automatically extending these financial aid components to the travel agencies that qualify.”


Abacus Malaysia suffered an 80 percent drop in bookings in April and 57 percent in May.

According to Mr Ismail, “We are seeing a recovery from SARS. For many travel agents, recovery can’t come fast enough though, and we are trying to help them by putting these measures into place. Fortunately bookings by travel agents in Malaysia are already at the same level they were at mid-March, before we first started feeling the affects of SARS.”

Tunku Dato Seri Iskandar bin Tunku Abdullah, President of the Malaysian Association of Tour & Travel Agents (MATTA) is encouraged by ABACUS’ efforts to soften the blow of SARS on travel agents. “Initiatives like this one enable travel agents to worry less about cashflow concerns and lets them focus on ensuring their business remains vibrant as their customers return to travelling.”

The announcement comes following the World Health Organization’s Global Conference on SARS in Kuala Lumpur earlier in the week, titled, “Where do we go from here?” According to Don Birch, ABACUS International President and CEO, the answer to that question as far as the travel industry is concerned is, “up”, both literally and figuratively. “We are entering a stage of recovery that we have seen before. SARS is just another manifestation of a series of events that the industry has had to face head on - be it 9/11, the Bali blasts, political unrest or outbreak. History has shown us that the resurgence from such events has three stages: Shock, Containment and Recovery. Right now we are moving toward recovery.”

He added, “You can’t keep travellers down, it is our nature to travel. And fortunately the numbers are reflecting that as bookings are beginning to return to 2002 levels.”

Related stories on ITN:

(30/05/2003) ABACUS Eases Online Bookings for Asiana Airlines

(22/05/2003) Singapore Airlines Implements Abacus Booking Solution

(28/04/2003) ABACUS Malaysia Launches Enhanced Website