With many nations across the globe now lifting some of their self-imposed lockdown restrictions, attention is turning to the long-term socio-economic impact of Covid-19. This includes Asian nations such as Malaysia, which has recorded 6,726 coronavirus cases and 109 deaths as of May 11th.
Nations of this type may be particularly adversely affected by Covid-19 in the medium and longer-term, primarily because they remain reliant on travel and tourism as their key revenue stream.
However, ‘Tourism Malaysia’ plans to restart its international promotional efforts from September onwards, while using the interim months to focus on stimulating a domestic recovery and eliminating Covid-19 once and for all.
How has Tourism Being Impacted by Covid-19?
According to Datuk Tan Kok Liang (the current President of the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents), the global pandemic has hit local tourism stakeholders very hard, creating a scenario where the very fabric of Malaysia’s lifestyle and economy has begun to unravel.
In truth, the market began to slow down markedly in January, when the Covid-19 outbreak first began to spread outside of China and throughout the Asia area.
At the most recent count, Malaysia’s hospitality and leisure industry employed 1.3 million workers and underpinned a number of spin-off jobs and industries, including those associated with airlines, hotels and eateries.
This makes for a mature and lucrative marketplace, and one that’s home to a number of globally popular tourism destinations that exist as huge revenue generators.
This is borne out by the numbers, with the coronavirus outbreak triggering a forecasted loss of RM3.37 billion during Q1 alone in 2020. According to Prime Minister Tan Seri Muhyiddin Yassin, this has caused Malaysia’s projected GDP growth for the year to shrink by 0.8 to just 1.2 points, with a potential loss of RM 17.3 billion forecast overall.
According to some sources, this has also compounded the issues facing the Malaysian Ringgit, which has actually been one of Asia’s worst performing currencies for some time. While there were signs that the currency may have finally turned the corner in 2019, the Covid-19 outbreak has once again sent values falling against a basket of other assets.
What Next for the Market in Malaysia?
For now, a slow but incremental recovery is being forecast for the Malaysian tourism industry, with this process set to begin in earnest in September.
According to the aforementioned MATTA organisation, this could create a scenario where the industry stabilises and begins to experience growth by June 2021, so long as there’s a clear strategy and focus on how to rebuild the marketplace.
One way in which this resurgence could be achieved is by changing to focus of domestic travellers, encouraging them to holiday within the boundaries of Malaysia rather than heading overseas.
This would negate any shortfalls in demand and investment caused by indefinite border closures, or any long-term restrictions that may be placed on international travel.
Of course, this would also afford travellers greater peace of mind and encourage them to spend more, which represents a win-win scenario for everyone involved in the travel and tourism sector.
As another part of this, Tourism Malaysia will continue to work closely with industry partners to organise physical fairs, while imploring domestic business event organisers to hold their events locally.