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13 hotels in Johor cease operations amid COVID-19 pandemic

13 hotels in Johor cease operations amid COVID-19 pandemic

The skyline of Johor Bahru, as seen from neighbouring Singapore. (Photo: AFP/Roslan Rahman)

JOHOR BAHRU: Thirteen hotels in Johor have ceased operations amid the spread of COVID-19 in Malaysia this year, the state’s Tourism, Youth and Sports Committee chairman said on Tuesday (Dec 1), without naming the affected establishments.

Onn Hafiz Ghazi told the Johor State Legislative Assembly the closure of the Malaysia-Singapore border and the implementation of the movement control order (MCO) has caused the average occupancy rate in hotels to decline to about 28 per cent in August this year, compared to about 57 per cent in 2019.

The COVID-19 situation also resulted in local tourist guides losing their source of income, while the number of visitors in theme parks and shopping malls have dwindled, he added.

READ: Implementing Singapore, Malaysia cross-border travel schemes was ‘right decision’: Johor Chief Minister

READ: Malaysia will hold general election after COVID-19 is over: PM Muhyiddin

Onn Hafiz said that the state government is aware of the importance of reopening the Malaysia-Singapore border, especially for the tourism sector.

For the border reopening to be successful, Onn Hafiz said it required the “understanding and agreement” between the state government, the federal government and the Singapore Government. It also needs to take into account health and safety factors, such as the number of cases in both countries.

He added that the Johor government has provided several initiatives to ensure that the state’s tourism sector was able to survive COVID-19 and remain viable in the future.

These initiatives include providing a one-off contribution of RM1,000 (US$245) to registered tourist guides and the exemption of payment for business licenses and entertainment duties under the Ihsan Johor Economic Stimulus Package 2020 to assist tourism industry players.

READ: COVID-19: Malaysian government opens investigations into Top Glove over workers' housing

READ: All travellers to Singapore from Malaysia, Japan to serve COVID-19 stay-home notice at dedicated facilities

“For next year, the state government will implement initiatives such as reviewing the Johor State Tourism Master Plan 2014-2023 to ensure the direction of the tourism sector can be planned in a more organised manner and in line with current trends,” he said.

Malaysia on Monday recorded a four-digit increase in COVID-19 cases for the fourth day in a row. The country is currently battling its third wave of COVID-19 and has reported a total of 65,697 COVID-19 cases and 360 deaths as of Monday.

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