Annual hotel licence fee waived for 340 hotels and lodging houses to alleviate Covid-19 fallout

File photo for illustration purposes

By Nancy Nais

KUCHING, Dec 1: Some 340 licensed hotels and lodging houses in Sarawak are entitled to waivers on their annual hotel licence fee this year.

“In view of the adverse impact of Covid-19 outbreak, the Sarawak government is committed in helping the tourism industry to survive this crisis and retain all the experienced players and staffs. The hotel licence fee waiver is part of the Sarawak government’s Bantuan Khas Sarawakku Sayang (BKSS) 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0.

“Other assistance rendered under the BKSS were the one-off RM1,500 (payment) for 164 tourist guides and 113 park guides; one-off RM500 to 199 registered small boat operators (penambang); one-off cash assistance of RM600 to 959 licensed van operators, 1,976 taxi drivers and 739 school bus or van operators (to) cushion the impact of income loss due to low demand for tourism services during the pandemic period. A Micro Credit Scheme with ceiling of RM50,000 interest-free was also offered for eligible 216 licensed tour companies, 340 licensed hotels and lodging houses,” the Sarawak government highlighted in a written reply to a question raised by entrepreneur Muhammad Rahmat Geneid during the “Sunday with CM: Dialogue Session with Young Entrepreneurs in Sarawak” dialogue held on Sept 28 this year.

Due to the constraints of time which led to many questions being unanwered. DayakDaily forwarded these questions to the relevant authorities who came back with the answers recently.

Muhammad Rahmat had asked about measures taken by the Sarawak government to help the hospitality industry which had been hard hit by the pandemic.

He pointed out it was not an exaggeration that private tourism and the hospitality industry in Sarawak are teetering on the edge of collapse. According to various reports and estimates, he added, it could be another two years before anyone can see a recovery in this sector, which by then, many local businesses that depend on tourism will be gone.

In response, the state government revealed its Economic Planning Unit (EPU) together with the Ministry of Tourism has embarked on the Third Sarawak Tourism Masterplan study to chart the way forward.

“The Third Sarawak Tourism Masterplan 2020-2035 is timely as we try hard to recover from the impact of Covid-19. It will identify and develop strategic directions and action plans for this sector to spur both immediate and long-term growth. It also aims at bringing new business models and strategies for both the demand and supply side.

“Through the 15-year strategic masterplan, we hope to encourage innovation and allow existing tourism operators as well as potential investors to identify business ventures in both public and private partnership in a win-win situation. We will ensure that tourism development will generate income and employment which benefit not only the corporate sector but also the rakyat by involving them in community-based tourism, (and the) arts and culture industry,” the statement read.

Although the Covid-19 outbreak has caused concerns especially about its ‘Sarawak More to Discover’ campaign with a new tagline ‘Rediscover Yourself in Sarawak’ which aimed to reach out to domestic market, the Ministry of Tourism Arts and Culture has responded to the current situation with a quick review of marketing strategies which includes the ‘Sia Sitok Sarawak’ tour packages to encourage locals to choose Sarawak as a preferred holiday destination. — DayakDaily