The tourism sector is one of the badly affected sectors since the start of the Movement Control Order (MCO) implementation in March last year.
According to the Menteri Besar of Perak, Dato’ Saarani Mohamad, based on Tourism Malaysia’s research on three localities which are Ipoh, Taiping and Pangkor, total domestic guests between January to June 2020 reduced by 62.8 percent, equivalent to only 488,000 individuals in comparison to 1.3 million in the same duration for 2019.
“At the same time, international guests reduced as much as 64.3 percent, equivalent to 52,000 individuals last year compared to 147,000 in 2019.
“Thus, this brings to a tremendous 62.9 percent in drop of hotel guests in the state, which is equivalent to a drop from 1.4 million individuals in 2019 to only 540,000 in 2020.”
He said so during the New Year Message and Executive Talk alongside state civil servants which was held online via Facebook today (February 1).
Perak used to be among the states in Malaysia to receive the highest number of domestic tourists, besides Selangor, Penang and Johor.
Saarani added, state revenues recorded a 10 percent decrease equivalent to RM111.4 million compared to 2019. He also mentioned that the state government has closed the account for year ending December 31, 2020 with a deficit of RM77.4 million, which was the first deficit in 12 years.
“Simultaneously, the economic downturn due to this pandemic has caused the government to spend more than usual, subsequently affecting the fiscal state of the government,” he explained.
One of the proactive steps executed by the state government in handling uncertainties is to explore new products by utilising Perak’s potential as a strategic location, besides the state’s possession of assets like minerals, natural resources, ports and rich flora and fauna available.
“With more than 80 percent of households having internet access, the digital economy is a new product which contributes to the state economy, spurs productivity and reduces business costs, not to mention improving citizens’ living standards,” Saarani posited.
Meanwhile, he encouraged civil servants to apply three executable approaches, which are to listen; to open their eyes, join and arrange solutions; and stay united.
“The approach of listening and keeping their eyes open are important for civil servants to be alert of surrounding problems and take preliminary steps in solving them.
“For instance, the major-scale forest encroachment issue of Bukit Kledang which occurred right in the centre of Ipoh previously has become public attention, but due to carelessness, a large destruction happened right in front of our eyes.
“This invites sceptical views from the public towards the image of the government. The matter could’ve been prevented if we’re constantly alert to our surroundings and sensitive to citizens’ complaints towards an issue,” Saarani reminded.