Penang introduces another round of hotel fee waivers to reboot domestic events

An additional six-month waiver is welcomed by hoteliers keen to recoup losses from the country's Movement Control Order

With the lifting of the Movement Control Order, Eastern & Oriental Hotel, Penang has since hosted small meetings and dining events.
With the lifting of the Movement Control Order, Eastern & Oriental Hotel, Penang has since hosted small meetings and dining events. Photo Credit: Eastern & Oriental Hotel, Penang

Penang – The Malaysian State has waived hotel fees until 31 December 2020, following earlier industry support measures that included waiving the 6% Sales and Service Tax (SST), and exemptions on Tourism Tax for non-Malaysians until 30 June 2021, as well as Local Council Tax exemption of RM3 (US$0.71) until 31 December 2020.

Expressing support for the six-month hotel fee waiver, Alison Fraser, GM of the iconic Eastern & Oriental (E&O) Hotel, said hoteliers would also welcome “partial subsidisation of flight tickets or hotel stay charges to key markets by the government once our international borders reopen in order to entice more visitors [here]”.

Due to a Movement Control Order set by the Malaysian government on a country-wide level, Penang’s hotels were temporarily closed from mid-March to mid-June. Due to the tourism slump, more than a few hotels have ceased operations during the lockdown period as well.

E&O Penang, whose business used to comprise a 50:50 mix of business and leisure guests in pre-pandemic days, saw this figure drop to 20:80 in the past four months since March.

“We received feedback from our corporate clients and event planners that a majority of corporations are still not permitting off-site meetings and gatherings for the time being. [Although] some companies have started to permit interstate business travel, [others] still advise against travel in general,” said Ms Fraser.

For the month of July — although international borders are still closed — the lifting of the Movement Control Order saw E&O host a series of small meetings, talks and training sessions, as well as a few social dining events.

Enquiries are also coming in for Parkroyal Penang Resort, mostly from domestic corporate groups and “the Malaysian Government who has encouraged all government sectors to host their meetings as a support to the hospitality industry,” said Gino Tan, Vice-President, Operations, Pan Pacific Hotels Group.

“Penang and Langkawi are now at the top of everyone's list as the preferred destinations in Malaysia, [not forgetting the] other efforts in place such as attractive packages to help local tourist attractions and the launch of domestic tourism 'Cuti-Cuti Malaysia' recovery plan,” said John Primmer, GM, Hard Rock Penang.