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Employee Vaccination Key to the recovery of the Hospitality Industry

 Amidst travel restrictions that continue to drag on, it is hardly a surprise that Malaysian travel buffs are eagerly waiting the reopening of interstate borders, with almost everyone longing for a change of scenery and ready to immerse themselves in a relaxing, rejuvenating and overdue vacation with their loved ones. 

OYO Hotels & Homes recently conducted a survey to understand the latest developments in travel plans, behaviours and trends among Malaysians who are looking forward to the opening of borders for interstate travel. The survey that saw the participation of 380 respondents from across Malaysia, also asked respondents about their perceptions on proper safety standards set in place by accommodation providers and operators of tourist attractions, and other key priorities on their travel checklist. 

Necessary Safety Standards 

From the survey, it is clear that a vast majority of the respondents (83.7%) are more comfortable with staying in a hotel where all employees have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19. This concern is further reflected in responses expressing worry about contracting Covid-19 as well as wariness about overcrowding in tourism hot spots and other travellers not observing SOPs. 

The recent announcement by the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC) on their framework to revive the tourism sector in three phases in line with the National Recovery Plan, highlights the need to ramp up vaccination for Malaysians and increase the capacity for vaccinating tourism frontliners. Immunisation is an important step to protect both hospitality frontliners and travellers, to ease fear of infection and giving the government a reason to ease up on restrictions that have been putting a halt on the leisure and hospitality sector due to the long ongoing MCO. 

Looking Beyond the Lockdown Blues 

Malaysians have certainly been making travel plans while stuck at home, with 91.8% of respondents planning to travel once the borders are open, while 77.1% prefer to travel domestically, citing Langkawi, followed by Kota Kinabalu and Genting Highland as their top domestic dream destinations.

With domestic travel being the hope of recovery for the tourism industry in Malaysia, it is important for hospitality service providers to keep track of traveller preferences. The survey respondents expressed interest in wellness-related experiences, with 77.4% listing relaxation and rejuvenation as their top travel focus, choosing beach relaxation as their favourite activity - basking in the warm sun and dipping their toes in the cool sea water. Undoubtedly, the Covid-19 Free Destination Programme by MOTAC proposing Langkawi and Kuching as pilot travel destinations will be attractive to Malaysians looking forward to travelling when they are fully vaccinated. 

Back to Business 

Not forgetting the economic contribution from business travellers in Malaysia, 69.7% of the respondents expressed comfort in attending events and conferences once they are allowed to travel interstate, while indicating that they did not have personal limits for event sizes as long as there is proper social distancing in place. 

The revival of the business events (BE) sector plays a significant role in the economic recovery, when we consider that in 2019, business events contributed RM3.9 billion in direct expenditure to the country and generated RM9.2 billion in economic impact . 

Tan Ming Luk, Vice President & Head, OYO Malaysia & Singapore said, “Domestic tourism is an urgently needed step for recovery of the travel and hospitality sector, as even domestic tourism spending has taken a huge hit, looking at the RM40.4 billion earnings in 2020 compared to RM103.2 billion in the previous year , due to movement restrictions. 

“In all the countries around the world that we serve, we see that anywhere where  >40% of the population have received the 1st dose of vaccination, we see travel bookings accelerate rapidly. (As at 15 Aug, 52.3% of Malaysia’s population have had their 1st dose of the vaccine) We expect the same pattern for Malaysia As more people are vaccinated and a safer environment is created for everyone in Malaysia, it is clear based on this survey that consumer confidence to travel again will significantly help the recovery of the travel and tourism sector.” 

“We hope that Malaysians can rediscover the beauty of what different states have to offer when the interstate borders are open as it plays a role in the recovery of the tourism and hospitality industry. OYO is ready to serve travellers by providing safe, affordable and comfortable accommodations across Malaysia when it is time to travel again,” concluded Ming Luk.