Why is Langkawi so expensive in Malaysia

This is how hard the corona crisis hits tourism in Malaysia

This year tourism should boom like never before. The drum for the big "Visit Malaysia 2020" campaign was stirred all over the world. The Southeast Asian country expected around 30 million tourists and an income of a good 20 billion euros. But the corona pandemic is throwing a spanner in the works, especially the more than 3.5 million people who work in the tourism industry.

The hotel sector is hardest hit

Most visitors until recently came from Singapore, Indonesia and China. But the Southeast Asian country also became more and more attractive for European tourists. But since the entry ban, many hotels have been struggling to survive.

"It can be said that Malaysia will lose at least 60 percent of its tourism business in 2020," said Yap Lip Seng, CEO of the Malaysian Hotel Association. The result: wage cuts and unpaid leave. This is the only chance to get jobs. But smaller hotels in particular cannot afford that. Thousands of employees in the industry are on the street.

Hotel-Resort on Langkawi Island

To support the businesses, some hotels are used as quarantine centers for Malaysians returning from abroad. The government promised the equivalent of 30 euros per room per night. More than 23,000 rooms were on the list. But even they weren't busy. The Malaysian Hotel Association therefore assumes that the emergency plan does not provide any significant compensation.

"But it helps the participating hotels when you consider that there is almost no income at all during this period," said Yap. Around 35 percent of the hotels in Malaysia had to close temporarily. According to a survey, around 15 percent of hotels assume that they will not survive the Corona crisis and will have to completely stop operating.

Cooking on the back burner

It looks just as dramatic in gastronomy. Bars, which are mainly used by expats and tourists in the Muslim country, are temporarily closed. Thousands of restaurants are about to go bankrupt. The culinary offerings are just as diverse as the cultures in the Southeast Asian country.

But regardless of whether the Malaysian, Thai, Chinese or Indian restaurants - they all only cook on a low flame. If anything, there is currently only take-away. Many companies are completely closed - some probably forever.

No tourists, no income on the island of Penang either

The months of calm hit thousands of street stalls even harder. Tourists are the main source of income, especially at sights such as the popular limestone Batu Caves. Without them and without social security, the existence of many families is threatened. Nonprofits are giving food to those who are left with nothing.

Government lifebuoy

The Malaysian government wants to push ahead with a merger of the national airline "Malaysia Airlines" and the low-cost airline "Asia Airlines" in order to save both airlines. The two largest airlines in the country have both been hit hard by the Corona crisis.

On the one hand, there is no longer any domestic traffic to the many Malaysian islands, on the other hand there are hardly any international flights. A merger was discussed even before the Covid 19 pandemic, but the economic crisis could now be decisive.

The total amount for the wage subsidy program was increased to almost 3 billion euros. This is intended to support small and medium-sized companies in the industry in particular. This is to enable employers to retain their workforce over this period and keep the industry going. The grant should be granted until December.

First, the locals should stimulate tourism, also on the island of Borneo

#TravelLater: Travel for the rest of the country

Domestic tourism will play an important role in the industry's recovery. This is why the Malaysian tourism association is encouraging locals in its social media posts to travel to their own country after the crisis under the hashtag #TravelLater in order to boost the local economy.

"It can take months for the tourism industry to recover from the effects of Covid-19 and we need all the help we can get to help rebuild," said Datuk Musa Yusof, director general of Tourism Malaysia.

Malaysia is hoping for a quick recovery in tourism

Popular photo opportunity: the Sultan Abdul Samad building with its bell tower in the capital Kuala Lumpur

The biggest challenge will be to regain the trust of domestic and foreign tourists. Among other things, the "Clean and Safe Malaysia" campaign is intended to help. Hotels that meet the requirements of the responsible authorities are to be certified.

Apart from that, airlines, hotels, transport companies and other operators should work together and offer joint travel packages. This should reduce costs for businesses and visitors and make tourism in the country more competitive. Tourism in Malaysia is expected to slowly recover by the end of the year and stabilize by June 2021.