The Malaysian Budget and Business Hotel Association (MyBHA) has urged the government to enact a law to regulate all types of Online Travel Agencies (OTAs).
MyBHA National Deputy President, Dr Sri Ganesh Michiel described OTAs’ actions as a form of tech colonialism of the new norm in the hotel and tourism industry which is currently affected by the COVID-19 pandemic whirlwind.
“OTAs have been offering loans to hotel operators and directly binding them to various terms, subsequently allowing OTAs to sell accommodation rooms at the cheapest price and take high commissions.
“They activate promotions without any notice or consent from the hotel operator via automatic email service. The most saddening is when they also threaten not to promote the hotel if the hotel operator refuses to cooperate as per the set requirements and will even suspend or terminate the account without any valid reasons.
“Digital tax payments or any charges that should have been borne by OTAs have been transferred to hotel operators. Additionally, hotel ratings from users about their experience of staying are displayed without any prior inspection,” he said in an online press conference recently.
According to him, the parties involved have created a sales price war which has resulted in the selling price of hotel rooms getting lower by the day, in turn increasing operating costs.
He said there was no control over customers who had been blacklisted by the hotel. They also sell accommodation services from unlicensed accommodation service providers.
“Their actions are completely unfair to licensed and registered traditional tourism agencies.
“Once again, I emphasise that hotel operators have been affected by the threat of the industry for a long time and I hope that the government can implement the guidelines for short-term residential accommodation which has been delayed for so long.
“The use of online services without enforcement from the government will not be able to revive the hotel and tourism industry if it fails to be properly addressed, especially in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.