Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Hospitality industry not spared by economic crisis

FACING BIG CHALLENGES: Mohd Ilyas (seated fifth left) and Simson (seated fourth left) pose for a group photograph with hotel general managers before continuing with their meeting agenda.

BINTULU: Just like other business industries, the hospitality industry is also facing big challenges and direct impact from the global economic recession as tourists and business executives are cutting back on trips abroad.

However, the hoteliers need to make a quick shift in their operation to suit the current situation and the availability of the market, Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) president Datuk Mohd Ilyas Zainol Abidin said Saturday.

Speaking to reporters after chairing MAH Sarawak chapter annual general meeting (AGM) at New World Suites here Saturday, he urged MAH members in particular to find ways to minimise the impact of the global recession by focusing more on domestic market and local consumption.

According to Mohd Ilyas, the recession had caused a decline of eight to 12 per cent in travellers coming to Sarawak this year as the crisis had a major impact on the United States and United Kingdom markets especially on the people’s expenditure.

“The markets in Europe and America are going through a very difficult time now.

“Low demand from these two major countries gives a massive setback and the international market might face up to 15 per cent decline in visitors,” he added.

He, however, believed that hotels that focussed on domestic market would not be badly hit as those relying on international market.

Ilyas said there had been no report of retrenchment of hotel staff in Malaysia because of the global economic crisis.

He said MAH with 13 state chapters and more than 500 member hotels in the country was committed to help its members face the difficult situations.

He added MAH provided members with government liaison, training and education, research and information, and other services to ensure a positive business climate particularly during a slowdown in the global economy.

Meanwhile, MAH (Sarawak) chapter chairman Peter Simson who was also present when asked on the current situation of the hotel industry in Sarawak said “the landscape now has changed”.

Simson who is also Hilton Kuching and Hilton Batang Ai Longhouse Resort general manager said proper strategies were needed now to identify relevant destinations to suit the sluggish global economy.

“Thus we have to introduce new local markets and promote attractive packages especially in Sarawak for its eco-tourism industry,” he said.

Sixteen hotel general managers in the state attended the AGM.

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